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Heavy Water and Other Stories by Martin Amis
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Heavy Water and Other Stories (1999)

by Martin Amis

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499520,441 (3.16)5
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This barely gets the 3/5 stars I am giving it and I am really starting to think Martin Amis is a little over-rated. One thing I can definitely say is that I have enjoyed his novels more. There are only two stories I found to be 4/5 star quality and the rest were more like 2/5. Those two stories were the title story and "The Coincidence of the Arts." At times ,one senses that Martin Amis is trying to be creative and a little twisted but ends up missing the mark and creating stories that detach the reader from the characters. At other times , the story just isn't unique enough to hold interest.

Basically, this is a fairly short collection at just a little over 205 pages that I read on the plane to California last night that was overall disappointing and made me wish I had chosen a different book to bring with me instead .

I will have to add a couple of quotes to this when I get back to Chicago . ( )
  kirstiecat | Mar 31, 2013 |
I usually react badly to "blokey" fiction, and reading The Rachel papers put me off Martin Amis a long time ago: these stories, which I read only because I happened to find them on the shelf in a holiday cottage, didn't do much to convert me. It's obvious that he is a clever and talented writer, but what he does with that cleverness doesn't really seem to be entertaining, instructive, or agreeable for the reader; it often comes across more like literary onanism. And he clearly doesn't know when to stop.

"Career Move" and "Straight Fiction" are both based on the idea of reversing two familiar concepts (in one case poetry is a billion-dollar industry based in LA, whilst screenplays are published in little magazines; in the other heterosexuals are an oppressed minority living in Greenwich Village and the Castro): this is amusing for the first two or three paragraphs, but very soon becomes boring in both cases. The "Janitor on Mars" is a horribly tedious bit of science fiction, whilst "Let me count the ways" is annoying for precisely the same reasons as Rachel. The only story in the collection I enjoyed was "The state of England", about a night-club bouncer attending the sports day at his son's posh prep school. It also rambles on a bit too much, but along the way it does bring out a few penetrating social insights. ( )
  thorold | May 22, 2012 |
This is not my kind of story-telling. I believe I only finished 3 of the stories, gave up on several more, and didn't even try the rest. "Coincidence of Arts' almost hooked me, and in it I can see why Amis is regarded as a very talented writer. Still, I didn't like the story, didn't like the characters, and had to force myself to finish it. "Straight Fiction" takes place in a world where homosexuality is the social norm, and that was a clever idea at first. But once I got the point (which didn't take long), it began to feel like a writing exercise. I think it's supposed to be funny, but by the time I got to that story I was pretty tired of Amis, and not much in a mood to be amused.
  laytonwoman3rd | Sep 22, 2011 |
Amis on second-best form. (Which is better than most people on best form.) Bujack - great riff on Bellow - much better than Time's Arrow. ( )
  m.a.harding | Jul 22, 2007 |
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When Alistair finished his new screenplay, Offensive from Quasar 13, he submitted it to the LM and waited.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:19:34 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

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.… (more)

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