Martin Amis: I wasn’t trying to impress my father
IT’S ALWAYS FUN, when you’re among readers, to pronounce Martin Amis Britain’s greatest living novelist, then stand well back. As well as raising a grumpy harrumph from the grave of Kingsley Amis, the popular comic author and ambivalent spawner of a son who threatens to outlive his father’s reputation, you’ll probably set off a few puffs of nostril smoke. There aren’t many figures who can spark more passion among the UK literary establishment than Amis, who, 40 years into his writing career, still knows know to seduce his followers and put the wind up his foes.
Amis isn’t just the feted creator of darkly funny zeitgeist-surfing volumes of postwar British literature, such as London Fields, Money, and The Information. He has long been a forceful, compelling character in the playground of the UK’s intelligentsia, from his salad days as the cool, suave, luxuriously coiffed enfant terrible of Soho, holding court in the Pillars of Hercules bar with his great friends Ian McEwan and the equally commanding, if slightly less sexually swaggering Christopher Hitchens, to his current position as the 63-year-old man of letters who makes waves every time he dips his toes into the popular conversation.