Thoughtful review in the Evening Standard by David Sexton of Martin Amis’ The Second Plane: September 11: 2001-2007, a collection of pieces in response to 9/11.
Sexton makes a point about Amis’ writing that’s similar to the one I made about Amis’ friend Christopher Hitchens – the “Word God” who rejects all religion but makes a faith of his own prose style: any deviation in others from the rules of grammar and syntax – or even from the requirement to impress clever writers - must be a sign of moral and intellectual muddle if not primitivism.
Sexton writes of Amis’ book: “The writing is so preening, so self-important about its own vocabulary and phrase-making that it always draws attention to its own display, not to the matter in hand. None of the formulae – ‘worldflash of a coming future’; ‘horrorism’; ‘hemispherical abjection’ – rings quite true.”
Virtuosic word-use is intended to establish superiority over the perceived ignorant: the peacock use of words in itself carries a mystical power in the mind of the author to exorcise dumb stupidity – like sacramental holy water flicked over the possessed. Amis and Hitchens should found a Word Church. They’d look marvellous in vestments, with a dictionary in one hand and a thesaurus in the other.