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Experience: A Memoir Paperback – Jun 12 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Canada; Vintage Canada ed edition (June 12 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0676973140
  • ISBN-13: 978-0676973143
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13.2 x 2.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 440 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #239,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Sept. 18 2009
Format: Paperback
There are a number of aspects of Martin Amis' memoir, "Experience" that make for both a difficult and terrific read. One, the structure is multi-layered. It covers parts of his life as parallel strands that require close following and working out together over time. As one can well imagine, Amis's life is not easy to follow, given the complexities of his famous father's life. His issues with his dad (Kingsley), money, death, friendship, love, children, and his career are constantly presently new faces and challenges at every turn in the road of life. Two, his use of copious footnotes to back up the storyline is often daring and puzzling. While they allow the reader a unique glimpse inside the Amis mind, they disrupt the potential momentum the book has going for it. It is almost as if Amis wants his readers to chug through this book in tedious fashion to fully appreciate the painful moments in his own life. Three, the scope of this work is enormous, breath-taking and filled with all kinds of little half-finished rabbit chases that are picked up unexpectedly at some later point in the story. I found that Amis started to hit his stride only when enough of the pieces of his life fell into place and he began to discover what he calls the Joycian inadvertancy of life. There is no set plan or pattern as to how one's life is meant to look except that which is formed by living and experiencing both its fortunes and outrages. This study is a very persistant attempt to undertand the metaphysical forces that shape life and prepare us inevitably for our own mortality. I enjoyed immensely Amis' effort to bring into play a wealth of personal connections he had with literary giants like Larkin and Leavis.Read more ›
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By Mike Galvin on Feb. 28 2002
Format: Paperback
From dental reconstruction Stateside to rumblings in the basement at Cromwell Street, this is as detailed a document as you are likely to get hold of outside the offices of Janes Defence. Nothing is overlooked in Junior's lengthy chronicle of Amis-dom. The subject matter is down to personal taste, but the writing is clever and engaging. Less so is a silly abuse of the footnote which makes for a great deal of flicking back and forth and an increasing vexation with Osric's lust for minutae. Otherwise, great. Like his father before him, he couldn't write badly if he tried, and the insights provided by the book to the last years of K.A. are balanced and without pathos. Better than anything he's done before.
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By A Customer on Aug. 15 2001
Format: Paperback
I'm still wading through the book and enjoying it mightily. It does sometimes veer too close to pastiche, and sometimes the insights he comes close to he can't seem to bear to examine for more than a minute. What I'm impressed and moved by is his confession of his own lack of innocence as a child. The molestation episode - which takes place in America in the 50s and is incredibly Nabokovian(!) - has stayed with me and haunted me. In so many ways he was a neglected child, brought up by a wilful, childish father with no sexual boundaries. The very fact that so many pictures were taken of him smoking as a kid is mind-boggling. Anyway, somewhere in there is a man who has learned to care about other people.
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By Anglo Jackson on July 31 2001
Format: Paperback
Looking thorugh the last few reviews I feel more than a little sorry for Martin Amis. (Not that with the size of his advances - or indeed the rave reviews he gets in the papers - he needs much sympathy.) I just read Experience, my first Martin Amis book, and thought it bloody good. It's both thoroughly well written and completely engaging; all the narratives (perhaps with the exception of the stuff about Lucy Partington) gripped me and gave me lots to enjoy and think about. The stuff about Sir Kingsley is tops and a wonderful insight into the great old curmudgeon, and Mr. is remarkably moving about Sir K.'s death. I expect real Amis fans get a lot more out of it but you don't have to be a diehard to enjoy his navel gazing, it's not self-indulgent (well, maybe a little) it makes sense and it's interesting and if little Martin was worried about the size of his bum well, I was glad to hear about it. Plenty to get your teeth stuck into here.
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By sweetmolly on July 30 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a memoir structured like none you have ever read. You don't read about Martin Amis' life, you "experience" it. The occasional letters home written while he was in school anchor the structure. The letters are bracketed by his fierce criticisms of his own past writing styles.
Mr. Amis has brilliance, humor and intellect, all bursting like fireworks off the page. He also has quirks that he freely indulges. You have to get past his obsession with his teeth. (Yes, teeth.) He can start on any subject and get waylaid by dental experiences he has had. You almost forgive him these tirades, as he describes them so vividly. No one who has served a sentence or two in a dentist's chair can help but agree "the drill, capable of making your vision shudder." Then there is the issue of his phantom obesity. He continually worries about the past, present and future size of his "bum," yet every single photo in the book depicts a slim boy/youth/man called Martin Amis.
One of the strongest areas in the book is his loving tribute to his family, particularly his father, the renowned Kingsley Amis. The family is eccentric-twenty years after his parents' divorce, Kingsley moves in to the upper story of his happily remarried ex-wife's residence where she cares for him the rest of his life. The reason for this move is Kingsley does not and will not stay alone at night. His sons take this as an absolute given and grown up Martin and brother Philip discuss whether they will have to move in with Dad to quell the night frights.
Mr. Amis' descriptive powers are a marvel as they drop effortlessly through his narrative, such as, "There is a slushy crush outside the British Airways terminal.
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