Saturday, January 20, 2007

Martin Amis

I got a book for Christmas called The New Oxford Book of Literary Anecdotes. It's a wonderful 400 pages of gossip, recollections, and stories about writers and their work throughout history. One by Martin Amis particularly amused me:
On a tube train to Earls Court I saw a young man reading The Rachel Papers [Martin Amis's first novel], about a week after its publication. He was enjoying the book, and in the best possible way: a reluctant smile, an unreluctant smile, a reluctant smile, and so on. I still regret that I didn't go up to him. But I told myself: listen, this will be happening all the time -- get used to it. I need hardly addthat it didn't happen again for about fifteen years (someone in a headset, on an aeroplane, scowling at The Moronic Inferno). When my first novel won the Somerset Maugham Award I told myself the same sort of thing: get used to it. And that never happened again.
That was originally published in his memoir Experience in 2000. He was a 24-year-old Oxford student when that first novel came out. The successful son of Kingsley Amis once famously spent £20,000 on dental work for his British teeth. Even three years later when Newsweek interviewed him about his novel Yellow Dog, the first question was about his teeth.

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