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Heavy Water and Other Stories (1999)
by Martin Amis
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 037570115X, Paperback)These nine stories span a period from 1975 to 1997 and are a good reflection of the range of Martin Amis's writing, which is always skillful and consistently seductive--sometimes irritatingly so. Amis lures his reader into an intense interest in his characters, and then, in some unsettling way, encourages us to patronize or disparage them. It's an odd strategy, but it holds our attention. By making us uncomfortable about our own less admirable attitudes, he focuses us intently on his story line.
In "Coincidence of the Arts," the targets are the feckless painter Sir Rodney Peel and his black doorman, aspiring novelist Pharsin Courier, who turns to him for artistic encouragement. When Peel embarks on a curious affair with a black waitress, it is sheer coincidence that she should happen to be Pharsin's wife. The consequences reflect well on neither man. In "State of England," we smirk knowingly at Big Mal, a bullshitting East Ender trying to sort out his life at his small son's sports day, but we are nevertheless compelled to find out what will become of him. Familiar stories about obsessive bad sex such as "Let Me Count the Times" have not stood the test of time, and Amis's tales of literary agents, aspiring novelists, and spoiled bestseller writers may only interest an inner coterie. Still, when he is on form, Amis's work is as deeply alluring as it is amusing. --Lisa Jardine, Amazon.co.uk
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:14 -0400)
Heavy Water and Other Stories is a literal landscape of Martin Amis's fiction. Once you enter Amis's disorienting and hilarious world, you'll never be the same. Every poem will remind you of "Career Move," a story in which poets are flown first-class to Hollywood in order to take meetings with sandal-shod producers, to review sales in the millions, while screenwriters struggle in near-oblivion for publication in obscure, unread journals. Never again will you consider communication with extraterrestial life-forms without conjuring apocalyptic images of evil from "The Janitor on Mars." Witness the world of "Straight Fiction," where everyone is gay except the beleaguered straight community, and our country's "don't ask, don't tell" policy evokes images of Amis's inverted, and outrageous, vision.
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