Experience: A Memoir
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Martin Amis is one of the most gifted and innovative writers of our time. With Experience, he discloses a private life every bit as unique and fascinating as his bestselling novels.
The son of the great comic novelist Kingsley Amis, Martin Amis explores his relationship with this father and writes about the various crises of Kingsley's life. He also examines the life and legacy of his cousin, Lucy Partington, who was abducted and murdered by one of Britain’s most notorious serial killers. Experience also deconstructs the changing literary scene, including Amis' portraits of Saul Bellow, Salman Rushdie, Allan Bloom, Philip Larkin, and Robert Graves, among others. Not since Nabokov's Speak, Memory has such an implausible life been recorded by such an inimitable talent. Profound, witty, and ruthlessly honest, Experience is a literary event.
The school would assemble, neat and tidy and silent, to wave to the Queen Mother as she went by. Well, I remember in the fifth year Lucy rebelled against this. She may have heard the story that the Queen Mother once said to the Town Clerk, “What is the name of the school for the deaf and dumb girls who come to wave to me?” Well, Lucy was not very pro-monarchy; she sat in the form room and discussed her anti-monarchy views and the state of the country and the state of the world and what sort of
death was coming to crown his old age and absolve him of his labors. He walked into the shreds of flame. But they did not bite into his flesh, they caressed him and engulfed him without heat or combustion. With relief, with humiliation, with terror, he understood that he too was a mere appearance, dreamt by another. From Kafka’s ‘A Fasting-Artist’* (Ein Hungerkünstler): Those were his last words, but his shattered gaze retained the firm if no longer proud conviction that he was fasting yet.
expected: expected without great enthusiasm, I have to admit … More than once, in general chat, he and I had reached a modest conclusion about social and familial behaviour. There is a moral duty to be cheerful. There is a solemn duty to be cheerful. And, just recently, this was a duty that Kingsley had been failing to discharge. His low spirits took aggressive form: having cast me as a dutiful plaything of multicultural correctness, he would then attempt to scandalise me with the ruggedness of
Everyone knows Camberwell Beauties come from Camberwell; That’s why they’re called that. Yes, I was ten. III In ’46 when I was twenty-four I met someone harmless, someone defenceless, But till then whole, unadapted within; Awkward, gentle, healthy, straight-backed, Who spoke to say something, laughed when amused; If things went wrong, feared she might be at fault, Whose eyes I could have met for ever then, Oh yes, and who was also beautiful. Well, that was much as women were meant
Everyone seemed to be talking about it. That’s how it was, in 1973. † From Part III (dated 21 December 1971) of the great poem ‘Livings’. Part II is perhaps the most extraordinary, with its modernist sprung-rhythm ending (the narrator is the keeper of a lighthouse): ‘Lit shelved liners/Grope like mad worlds westward.’ * Osric’s suzerainty was coming to an end. Twenty-one, and in my last year, I was living in one of the bedsits of a college annex on Iffley Road. My usual evening meal was the