Tuesday, September 07, 2004

The Rachel Papers

Just finished reading Martin Amis’s The Rachel Papers. He was just 22 or some such obscene age when he wrote it (it was his first novel) -- and the mere thought fills me with rage and self-loathing. But that’s a rant for another blog. Amis is a brilliant stylist, something that’s evident even in this very early work, narrated in the first person by the precocious, irreverent 19-year-old Charles Highway who shares his thoughts on life, family, sex and Oxford (not necessarily in that order) and tries to make sense of his relationship with a girl named Rachel.

The humour is very wry, very deadpan, so much so that I’m sure I missed some of it. Though it sometimes teeters on the edge of being too-clever, it’s disarming and, for the most part, genuinely funny.

At that moment the double doors swung open and Mr Greenchurch strolled grandly in.
He wasn’t reproaching us, merely calling out my name in his senile yodel.

Can’t say I give it an unqualified endorsement; some passages were vague and just didn’t hold my interest.To be honest, I was in speed-reading mode through much of the first half; it’s hard to focus on the task at hand when I’m simultaneously worrying about the six dozen or so as-yet-unread books rustling their pages plaintively at me from a corner of the bed. I also had occasional trouble with the 1970s Brit slang.

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