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London Fields (1989)

by Martin Amis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,271474,066 (3.69)125
The murderee is Nicola Six, a "black hole" of sex and self-loathing who is intent on orchestrating her own extinction. The murderer may be Keith Talent, a violent lowlife whose only passions are pornography and darts; or the rich, honorable, and dimly romantic Guy Clinch. As Nicola leads her suitors towards the precipice, London-and, indeed, the whole world-seems to shamble after them in a corrosively funny novel of complexity and morality.… (more)

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English (46)  Italian (1)  All languages (47)
Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
I listened to this book as an audiobook, and it was a VERY LONG book to be digesting in that format. The reader was good at the voices, though, and did add something positive to the experience, especially with respect to Kevin, whose dialect the reader did especially well.
This book is a classic noir-style thriller, and metafiction, with the characters hanging out with the 'author' of the book, a man named Sam, who has his own adventures as he tries to keep tabs on his characters. The femme-fatal, or in this book's terminology the 'murderee', has a lot to say about her role in the story and her appeal as a murderee to both the reader and the male characters in the story. At first Sam is fixated on the pending murder, seeming impatient for the murder and murderee to get on with the main action already, but as he gets to know the characters he gets distracted by all sorts of tangents and the characters begin to develop lives outside the parameters of the expected murder.
If you avoid books with foul language or graphic scenes, this may not be a good book for you. Otherwise, this was a clever novel, and I enjoyed the complexity of the fictional author and his more-fictional narrative. ( )
  JBarringer | Dec 15, 2023 |
A hyperbolic sledgehammer of a book, vicious and vitriolic. It is a wonderfully inventive post-modern crime story, with a broad and vivid cast of London life, that sadly rings a little too true. I'm not a big Amis fan, but I loved London Fields.

While written in the late 80s, it still feels highly relevant today. Perhaps it would have seemed less so in the middle of Blair's premiership, but the new age of austerity suits book just fine. The dread of imminent apocalypse (a touch of JG Ballard there, particularly The Drowned World with its relentless sun), may have a different flavour these days but it still resonates - perhaps that's just the age I'm at. Certainly, despite the political backdrop, the real apocalypses tend to be personal. I think that's what makes it such a existential, misanthropic and desperate cri de coeur. The plot is clear and bleak (and telegraphed, in all the book's post modern flourishes), but the struggle with the modern human condition is a constant. Which, through the course of the book, you might become convinced is worse than the looming global catastrophe.

It may be slightly overlong, or at least I felt it sagged a touch in the middle middle. The repetition of one incident through three of the players' eyes didn't feel like it repaid the effort. That said, it does have the feel of a book that could stand a second run at it, so maybe that section would open up.

On a personal note, it is particularly interesting to read it, working, as I have been for the last 6 months, around Westbourne Park (I know exactly what he means, 20 years on, about the difficult junction by the canal bridge and bus station on Great Western Road). And my trips to the falafel stand on Portobello Road now have me looking out for Keith Talent-alikes, and Black Cross pub archetypes (it's not a fruitless search).

A good part of the enjoyment of London Fields derives from the cheerfully grotesque characters. The main figure is like a hyper-real Del Boy - bits of it read like an extreme reaction to Only Fools and Horses and the lovable cockney rogue archetype. I would have relished an adaptation featuring the casts and sets from that sitcom in its heyday.

Well, an astonishing searing hurricane of a book, that blows you away in the reading and leaves you feeling worn out and dessicated. That said, for me the final resolution didn't quite satisfy. Clearly you know that not everyone was going to play their roles as scripted, but the climactic switcheroo left some important arcs dangling disconcertingly and also felt a little implausible. I feel like I understand why Amis resolved it as he did, just that it could have been handled a little better. While it was all foreshadowed (a little too) neatly through shoals of red herrings, even that foreshadowing seemed a little too manufactured (a criticism that Amis deftly and disingenuously heads off by his narrator pointing out what he didn't go back and change the beginning to fit his resolution). While his murderee convinced, it was as if, despite the ingrained misanthropy on every page, he couldn't quite conjure up what would bring someone to murder. I guess that's somehow encouraging.

Despite my slight dissatisfaction at the resolution, this is one of the best and most engrossing books I've read. If you were to read only one Martin Amis book (and, honestly, I think that may be enough (though Money is a lot of fun)), make it London Fields.
( )
  thisisstephenbetts | Nov 25, 2023 |
Contrived first person format that is clever but no more than that. I did not finish the book. Maybe it gets much better at some point. I listened to a recorded version. ( )
  Michael_Lilly | Jul 3, 2023 |
This is easily the worst book I read in 2022. Awful, just awful. It has relieved me of the need to read anything else by Mr Amis.Save yourself the bother.

I listened to this as I needed a book published in 1989 and the pickings were thin. An American author undertakes a house swop with an author based in London. He arrives and meets with 3 people who form the core of the book. They are Guy (an upper class nit), Keith (a neanderthal that can barely string a sentence together) and Nicola. Nicola is barely human, she seems to be, instead, a fantasy figure to each of the three men involved, such that she is utterly unconvincing. She has this gift/curse of being able to see the future, and so the events that happen are both pre-ordained and induced by Nicola's own actions. She also invents a scheme to extract money from Guy by searching for her childhood imaginary friend, Enola Gay and her equally made up child Little Boy. I found it impossible to believe that no-one twigs. She feels to be the object of different male fantasy, and each different fantasy is scrunched into one woman, but she is made inhuman by this creation.
Keith is into darts, has a harem of women, including an underage girl that he pays her mother for regular congress. Keith rips off everyone, leaving an old lady with very little and an exploding boiler while acting as a handman. Keith also abuses his wife, who then takes it out on their child - to whom Keith makes no effort whatsoever. There is also discussion of historic rape and violence and ongoing compensation for prior actions. He is a thoroughly unpleasant creation and spending 18 hours with him is not something I can ever recommend to anyone else.
Guy just seems to be somewhat dense. Not stupid, just rather naive. I'm not sure how he ended up involved, but he has his own problems that need attention that he had been spending elsewhere.
I can't decide if the author is writing these events, and there is a degree of uncertainty as to if they are real to the author or whether he is also inventing these people & events. It was the longest 18 hours listen of my life. Save yourself the effort, just don;t go there. ( )
1 vote Helenliz | Dec 31, 2022 |
This is the first Martin Amis I have read. I have heard that a lot of people hate him. Count me in. The story is about a woman (Nicola) who believes she always knows what will happen ahead of time and she knows she is going to be murdered. Instead of fighting it she decides to allow it to happen but she wants to control it. The book also is about the impending doom of the earth and mankind. It is set in London and the earth is zooming toward environmental and economic ruin not to mention the apocalypse. The author seems to be saying with this parallel that both Nicola and people of the earth feel that their demise is inevitable. Not only is the end inevitable but they are both engaged in very destructive behavior intended on speeding up the process. The book is carefully crafted every word seems especially chosen for that position on the paper; which for me made the writing tedious and overwrought. The book is not for the squeamish there is a great deal of blood and erotic sex; although I would have welcomed more sex and less verbiage. No recommendation from me.

Patron190 5/20/2010 10:34:19 AM ( )
  JeffCoLibAL | Aug 18, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
Martin Amis's 'London Fields' dissected by Carla Scura. It's set, of course, not in Hackney but in Notting Hill!
added by scura | editLondon Fictions, Carla Scura (Dec 1, 2013)
"London Fields" is a virtuoso depiction of a wild and lustful society. In an age of attenuated fiction, this is a large book of comic and satirical invention.
Keith Talent represents Mr. Amis's best creation in the book - a grotesque who is nevertheless both surprisingly vivid and desperate. It is a portrait done in verbal glitter. [...] Nicola is a problem, though; she makes us yield to a sneaking suspicion that a misogynist lingers here somewhere. She is not truly satisfying as character or caricature.
As a tale of nuclear warning, ''London Fields'' is unconvincing. It succeeds, however, as a picaresque novel rich in its effects.
In a prefatory note, Amis says he toyed with the idea of calling his book The Murderee. The coinage describes the dark lady of the novel, whose self- arranged annihilation strongly suggests one of the author's recurrent themes: the nuclear and toxic capacities of industrial nations to destroy life on earth. "Hard to love, when you're bracing yourself for impact" is the succinct way the narrator of London Fields puts this modern predicament. But not hard to laugh when slouching toward the millennium with Amis.
added by Widsith | editTime, RZ Sheppard (Feb 26, 1990)
Nicola's king-sized deathwish ('Begging for it. Praying for it') is stated, never explained. Instead, Amis takes refuge in that familiar device for disowning authorial responsibility, the writer as a character. [...] Like his creation, Keith Talent, Amis's preoccupations are 'modern, modern, modern'; more than any other British writer of his generation he gets to grips with the postmodern condition.

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Martin Amisprimary authorall editionscalculated
D'Amico, GĂ©raldineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Massanet, LluísTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schönfeld, EikeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Swahn, Sven ChristerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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to my father
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This is a true story but I can't believe it's really happening.
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The murderee is Nicola Six, a "black hole" of sex and self-loathing who is intent on orchestrating her own extinction. The murderer may be Keith Talent, a violent lowlife whose only passions are pornography and darts; or the rich, honorable, and dimly romantic Guy Clinch. As Nicola leads her suitors towards the precipice, London-and, indeed, the whole world-seems to shamble after them in a corrosively funny novel of complexity and morality.

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