Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Martin Amis and The Guardian: Asbo savaged not quite by all in the US

Click to enlarge
'Most of the US reviews for Lionel Asbo, Martin Amis' latest novel, are in. And they're not pretty,' wrote someone called Emma Brockes on a Guardian blog last week.

Pure schadenfreude then attended her re-heating of the most vitriolic and quotable assessments  culled from various US reviewers, each name-checked in the first instance only because of the tyranny of media branding (eg New York Observer, Wall Street Journal, et al). But a grande dame must be careful of the company she keeps: as true at the Guardian as anywhere else, in an age of reflexive conformity.

In addition to relishing the fall of a once literary hero, Brockes also had a personal tale to tell: she had actually got off her arse and seen Amis at a recent books signing in the Hamptons - and was struck by a 'certain pathos' about him, there cloud-like because of all the horrible US critiques, following all the 'Amis-bashing' in the UK. More probably he was just hung-over - rarely a happy sight, especially on Amis' fallen features.

But perhaps not all is lost for Amis. He need not check into the Dignitas Literary Skip just yet. His publisher. Alfred A Knopf/Vintage Books, has posted an ad on Facebook (above left) which sings with nothing but praise for Asbo ... from various US reviewers.

A selective sample for sure but a reminder that we should be wary of sexy-sounding commentary pitches, made to excitable commissioning editors, which get to see the light of day. As true at the Guardian as anywhere else.

And should we doubt this, we need only read the top line of the ad: 'A masterclass' - The Guardian.


Vincent said...

Well, I'm an avid reader of Amis, and consider Asbo his best. But then, I'm a reader, not a critic. I take his seriousness as a novelist as a given. What's left but to enjoy the read?

The critics are mostly jealous of Amis, not least because he's a brilliant critic himself; and perhaps most because he's so listenable on camera too. His "fallen features" as you elegantly put it, make him very watchable as well.

A cunting critic said...

A good spot Madame. Asbo is an excellent novel, even if Peter Kemp of the Sunday Times thinks it's crap. Reviewers are like fashion editors, ever in search of the next new thing in order to look good themselves. Familiarity always breeds contempt. Am is may have to skip a generation before he's appreciated again. If he can live that long.

Anonymous said...

Do you have a naked picture of Martin Amis?

Anonymous said...

I thought u'd closed down