rashbre central: Rachel

Saturday 27 May 2023


I thought I'd give Martin Amis a re- read.  With all the stuff about him in the media it seems like a good thing to do. I realise i'd read about half of his shelf of books. A surprise because I'd never really thought of mentioning Martin Amis among my influences. But he is, after all.

I first read The Rachel Papers when I was around the same age as Charles Highway in the novel - maybe a few years older, but certainly younger than Amis. I also lived in the kind of bedsit that he describes, with similar to-ings and fro-ings as well.

I always regarded Charles Highway as an insufferable elitist snob as well as an unreliable witness and therefore treated the book as humour throughout. The lead player builds various dossiers including one of Rachel and his pursuit of her which is a probably deeply inappropriate act  nowadays. Amis has a way with punchy sentences and twists in sometimes deeply noxious prose. 

I remember the story, the characters, from when I read it the first time, but the twists were now new again and something I enjoyed. It's not a story for everyone, and I can remember the difference between this and the London Trilogy (which I dutifully read on commuter trains) and then the difference again in the altogether more daunting Time's Arrow - which left a mark on me.

I think I must have fallen off the Amis wagon after that, because his later books about Stalin and so forth offer me no memories. 

Something new for me to delve.

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