©1989 Martin Amis; (P)2008 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
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"Great, I think..."
I was totally drawn in with this book, swept away, mesmerised with the characters. I loved the story, the people, I laughed, I shook my head, I couldn't have stopped listening for anything. But I got to the end and thought, I haven't a clue what that was all about. Yet I loved it.
It's one, I think, that you've got to concentrate on. Amis is incredibly witty and clever, and I kind of felt like I was peeking in the head of a VERY clever man. If you've read any Clive James, it's a similar style.
However, if a narrator can make or break a book, as they so often do, this narrator is superb! He brings everyone to life, not just, 'yeah, i can imagine that,' but fully to life so you feel as though you'd recognise them if they walked past you on the street or spoke to you in a pub.
The other impression I got is one of confusion, not over the writing, certainly not over the writing, but over the characters. I felt as though I should hate the people in this. Some of them are truly awful, but I couldn't wait for them to come back into the story, and I liked spending time with them, which felt odd and uncomfortable but safely uncomfortable, if that makes sense.
I wouldn't recommend this as a story to dip in and out of in short bursts, but if you're going on a long trip or have a chunk of time to dedicate uninterrupted, then go for it!
"Ploughing the Fields"
This is a truly awful book. Which is odd because I read it as part of amazon's 100 books to read before you die.
From the arrogant tone of the narrative the book details the basic and soulless actions of four main characters. I say characters but really each is merely a collection of a couple of basic attributes, no depth, no sympathy gathered, just paper thin and pointless.
Keith the thief (paedophile, child molester, rapist), guy the err guy (successful city operator and father yet unbelievably stupid, uneducated and malleable when it comes to relationships) Nicola six - sex (femme fatale and earn... Nope that's it). And the writer / narrator character who is nearing death and is actually far better written than the others.
Guy and Keith spend 300 pages trying to get into Nichola's knickers. And that's about it, the tedium and lack of action is amazing, uniquely self obsessed in my reading experience.
This book has no joy, no education and no point. Some people say the characters are analogous of the class system but I guess if you write your characters that thinly they'll fit into any pigeon whole you'll like.
In short, a terrible terrible pointless depressing and annoying book. Simply awful.
"Making Darts Interesting"
Steven Pacey's reading of this novel is superb. It enabled me to get into a novel which I would otherwise have found challenging. His interpretation brings a collection of sad and shady characters to life and is very entertaining. By the end, I felt very involved and sorry to be leaving this bizarre and unsafe world.
"Long and fundamentally not much happens"
It could be because I am stupid but I feel like I just wasted 20+ hours listening to a story that could have taken at least half that. To be fair, I made it to the end and I enjoyed the character of Keith but beyond that I predicted the end almost immediately and struggled to be gripped by the story..... I basically don't really get it. Why am I missing?
Overall I liked the narrator - he was good and couldn't be faulted
Disappointed - Just didn't feel like a climax or any kind of tension that others have described.. felt like I could have predicted this from the start
"Brilliant, should be qualified though"
This is the book that got me hooked on Amis in the first place and is my second favourite by him (after Time's Arrow). As with most of his works it can be quite difficult to follow if you aren't used to his style, so I do not recommend this as either bedtime, or light reading.
The ending however is one of my all time favourites. I won't spoil it for you, so I can't even tell you why it was so good, but it gave me such a well up of different emotions that I have never found in any other book. Well worth it.
"A great book, brilliantly narrated"
This is the third book I have read by Martin Amis, two of which have been audiobooks (the other was "Money" - also brilliant, with the same narrator - a plea to AUDIBLE to get it). In print, as it were, I find him to be a difficult author; I like to read quite quickly but it is simply impossible to do this without losing the essence.
But with an audiobook, you have to go at the pace of the narrator, and so learn to appreciate the mind-boggling prose, the savagely funny humour, the variations in pace and tone, the torrent of ideas, and the complications of the characters. He really is an exceptional author, and this is a truly great book.
Of course, you need a good narrator and Steven Pacey does an quite superb job. He clearly relishes the task - he seems to roll the prose round his mouth like a fine wine - and he brings the book to life quite brilliantly. His judgement of pace and colour is faultless; and he draws the characters brilliantly too.
Strongly recommended, particularly if you are already familiar with and like the author's work.
This book is seedy. Amis takes us to an alternate London where the biggest lies pay, crime is squared, and the extremes of rich and poor are even more extreme (and where innocence is ever more elusive). He introduces us to characters like Keith Talent, who has never allowed himself to be bothered by what we call morality (as such); and to Nicola Six, a walking, conniving sentient weapon.
He does this with a wicked humour, and with prose which, at its best, reminded me of Bellow.
Narrated throughout, and superbly, by Steven Pacey (he makes it sound as if this novel was meant to be read aloud).
Give it a go, innit.
Brilliant narration - the characters came alive. I loved the 1980's predicted millennium, the quirky plot, the narrator. This is a book I've meant to read for a long time and it certainly didn't disappoint.
"Nasty but good"
Not sure it was 'enjoyable' as such. I read it because I had not read any Martin Amis and thought i 'should'.
Not really. I think Mr Amis has a rather unpleasant line of thought that must run through his head.
Can't say I enjoyed any of it. I can see he is a good writer - but Oh! So negative and dark!
As another reviewer wrote - life is too short to spend on listening to such darkly imagined stuff.
"Not easy to like."
Much has been written in the reviews of this novel and so for what it is worth I will add my own thoughts. Definitely a marmite book I think. I wanted to like this. I had read no Amis before (father or son) but having seen junior speak at Hay-on-Wye festival I wanted to give him a go. This perhaps was not the book to start with. You know it is good and you know it is insightful and on the money in its social observations but reviewers are right when they say it is hard to like and it does feel slow at times as it crawls painfully to its close. But none of this should detract from the writing which is excellent. And I think that's the point. Don't sit down with this if you want a fluffy easy to read page turner. It isn't that at all. But I would be surprised if this does not survive to be read by many generations to come and be all the more relevant and recognised for the image it creates of the London of the late 20th Century. That having been said I am 100 pages into Lionel Asbo. Much more accessible and engaging.
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