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'Up there with Money and London Fields as the finest work he's produced.' Observer

*Shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction*

This remarkable novel gives the reader the intimate testimony of one of our finest writers.

Inside Story is the portrait of Martin Amis' extraordinary life, as a man and a writer. This novel had its birth in a death that of the author's closest friend, Christopher Hitchens. We also encounter the vibrant characters who have helped define Martin Amis, from his father Kingsley, to his hero Saul Bellow, from Philip Larkin to Iris Murdoch and Elizabeth Jane Howard, and to the person who captivated his twenties, the alluringly amoral Phoebe Phelps.

What begins as a thrilling tale of romantic entanglements, family and friendship, evolves into a tender, witty exploration of the hardest questions: how to live, how to grieve, and how to die? The result is one of Amis' greatest achievements: a love letter to life that is at once exuberant, meditative and heart breaking, to be savoured and cherished for many years to come.

*A BOOK OF THE YEAR IN THE TIMES, NEW STATESMAN, IRISH TIMES and SPECTATOR*

'The Mick Jagger of literature Amis is the most dazzling prose stylist in post war British fiction.' Daily Telegraph

'
If you liked Experience, then you'll love Inside Story.' Spectator Ett oväntat fel har inträffat.

The book’s publishing date is 2020 but the writing was finished in 2016 before Donald Trump’s election in November.
The author is very honest about what this book will be like in the opening paragraph of the “Preludial”:
“Welcome! Do step in – this is a pleasure and a privilege. Let me help you with that. I will just take your coat and hang it up here (oh, and incidentally that’s the way to the bathroom). Sit on the sofa, why don’t you – [….].
Now what would you like? Whiskey? ….”
So, this will be a 522 pages long dinner conversation in which the author talks about things he likes to talk about – life, fiction, writing in what he claims will be his last book. It may not be. He was only 67 when he finished writing this one.
If you expect something else (maybe misled by a label in advertisements: “A novel by Martin Amis”) you will, of course, be disappointed. However, if you enjoy this sort of stream of consciousness life writing as well as very stylish language for its own sake done by a master of style, you will like it. I did not even mind having to look up a few words in a dictionary.
Amis alternates between talking as himself [“So at twelve thirty I left the Oxford House ….”] and talking about himself in the third person [“Martin flew to Chicago …”, two pages later].
It is not all frivolous dinner talk either. The final Part V (pp 459 & ff.) of the book tells of the illness and death of Philip Larkin (1985), Saul Bellow (2005) and his coeval and close friend, Christopher Hitchens (2011). The language is factual, non melodramatic, but moving.
He starts the book by commenting on Saul Bellow’s writing (Bellow an admired mentor and friend) and that of Graham Greene, the latter’s religiosity amusingly taken to task. Then fiction starts in Chapter 2. Phoebe Phelps is its main character, recurring throughout the book. In some interviews Amis has claimed that Phoebe Phelps is totally fictional. I have no idea if he is taking it out on some woman or women in his past life. Many events have dates attached to them.
The book goes on mixing real life anecdotes with (pretend?) fiction, darting in and out of the first and the third person, until the above mentioned ultimate part, the very personal “Doing the Dying” (p 459). There are (seven?) interruptions given to technical – and useful – advice to writers or would be writers.
As is obvious from other reviews, you will love the book or hate it. I hope this helps you decide before you spend your money. English I consider myself a tremendous fan of Mr. Amis, especially his early novels. I just reread Money a while ago and almost fell down laughing. He is the wittiest of contemporary fictional stylists and will be an influence, as he already is, on the next generation. I am also a great fan of Christopher Hitchens and to be able to spend a few hours in his literary presence as you can in this book was worth the price of purchase. (I am not as keen on Saul Bellow, Philip Larkin and Nabokov three other spirits that glide in and out of the 'story', but the anecdotes about them certainly don't detract.) My main issue with Inside Story is trying to figure out why it was written? It doesn't seem like one of those burning embers that a writer simply has to toss to the public; nor does it harken to any new developments in Mr. Amis' development as a writer (the 'late' Amis, for instance). It seems to have been written because that is what writers do, they write, and since he had nothing better to write about he wrote about himself. Fair enough. It amuses, it informs, it postulatesbut does it advance Mr. Amis as a writer? (no)will we walk away from it being better, enlightened readers? , not to say human beings? (no). In my case I prefer the younger, caddish Mr. Amisbut I can't fault him for growing up and even for writing this Dad sweater of a 'novel.' Perhaps there will be coming. I hope so. There is so much he could be talking about. English Since self congratulation appears to be the motivation for, and purpose of, Inside Story, I hereby congratulate myself on having made it to page 47 of this meandering piece of peacockery. Amis writes as if he and Christopher Hitchens are Charles Ryder and Sebastian Flyte revisiting Brideshead (see what I did there?) for one last sip of champagne while sighing world wearily about nothing in particular. Their imaginary conversations teeter precariously on the edge of tedium before collapsing into a sea of unstifled yawns. Mine. And then we are subjected to the emergence of Phoebe, a most vacuous and uninteresting woman who is, as Amis breathlessly confides, appalled by her own handwriting. Horrors! This um novel reads like the journal of an adolescent who learned all the right words at school but has not lived long enough to have truly valuable experiences to share. To paraphrase The Divine Dorothy, Inside Story should not be taken lightly; it should be thrown across the room with great force. I wuz robbed. English I am one of those people who is constantly reading something. I can honestly say this is the worst book I have ever read. Poorly written and poorly conceived. English I used to read TLS, and when Martin Amis dumped them, they had a field day poniéndole a caer de un pino as we say in Spain. And I bought their criticism of him. And stopped reading him.

But this book is great. It is at the same time a personal story, a conversation with the reader about how to write prose, English prose, Loving rememberances of Philip Larkin, of Saul Bellow, of Christopher Hitchens Thoughs about having children, about ageing, about dying It does never bore, or stay too long on one subject, and leaves the reader all the while wanting .
So, I have gone back, to read al the Martin Amis books tha I missed all these years. It is great English

Ett

I found the endless footnoes, sometimes taking up half the page, immensely tiresome and not very interesting. Mr. Amis seems to say a great deal in very flowery and splendid English, surely showing how clever and learned he is, but so many of the rambling chapters seem to have no real meaning, making me wonder about the purpose of this long and muddled novel. All very disappointing, indeed, I gave up half way through, having had quite enough of a confusing book. English It’s a bit overwrought for my taste & I found not knowing what was fact & what was fiction annoying. He seems to have invented a new—unsatisfying—genre. That said, I’m not sorry I bought it as there are a few gems in here about writing that made me glad I bought It. Even if I did skip through much of it. English Sort of an autobiographical roundabout in which the reader is helped along by some familiarity with the cast of characters. I would have been happy to go another 522 pages for the pleasure of Amis's writing on whatever topic. English I bought this memoir on the advice of my husband, the poet Simon R Gladdish, and I'm very pleased I did. It is one of the funniest books I have ever read. Bathos abounds, especially when he is detailing his relationship with his first live in girlfriend Phoebe Phelps. Phoebe is a real character, a laugh and a half and a part time prostitute. However, there is plenty of pathos too, particularly when he is describing the decline and death of his closest friend Christopher Hitchens, who died of cancer aged 62. I did disagree with Martin when he casually dismissed John Updike as inferior to both Bellow and Nabokov. I personally would place Updike at the apex of that golden triumvirate and I speak as someone who has been steeped in Nabokov, Updike and Bellow for decades. This book made me laugh, cry and, most importantly, think, which is why I am awarding Martin five stars. English Interweaving the fictional and the semi fictional with real life, this is an ‘autobiographical novel’. At times you might wonder, as I did, why it wasn’t written simply as a memoir. But Amis has written one already Experience which was excellent. In Inside Story, he suggests this is the last long novel he’ll write. There are certainly elements of the novel in it. One of the female characters, who becomes Amis’s lover, is by his account made up. But it seems closely related to a real life figure from his past (who recently accused him of basing the character on her). Details of Amis’s friendship with the late Christopher Hitchens are we assume real. So is much of the information about Martin’s father, Kingsley, and poet Philip Larkin, Kingsley’s close friend and correspondent and Martin’s godfather. Really this book is a kind of retrospective, at times playful and postmodern, at times very moving and serious. Its chief topics are: Hitchens, Kingsley, Larkin, and novelist Saul Bellow the key influences in Amis’s life. The section about 9/11 is memorable, and haunting, but the whole book, which also contains passages offering advice on writing fiction, is beautifully written despite the trademark Amis habit of dropping in long, rarely used words and then giving their Latin derivation. Amis sees himself as a life writer writing not in a genre but drawing inspiration from social realism the substance of real life. Some of the material has been used, though not necessarily verbatim, in previous work, eg (the very good) non fiction collection The Rub of Time. Maybe Inside Story is best understood as the equivalent of The Trip, the comedy series starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon touring restaurants in Spain, Italy, Greece, and the UK. It’s lightly fictionalised they play themselves, but there’s the odd bit of fiction thrown in. There’s not much variation you know for certain they’ll both be doing Michael Caine impressions, for example but somehow it all works, because you want to share their preoccupations. Inside Story, which feels like a swan song (hopefully not), is similar. For Amis fans, very little is new or surprising, but again somehow it works. In particular, many of his reflections about Hitchens were new to me. For those who haven’t read Amis before, probably best to start with Money, or The Rachel Papers. This is a book that should probably be read once you have a few Amis titles under your belt. But it is a tour de force. Amis recommends dipping into it rather than reading it in one go and the fragmentary style lends itself to this approach. I didn’t take his advice but still loved it. English