bonnie’s #CBR5 Review #73: London Fields by Martin Amis

Martin Amis has been accused of being sexist in his life and literature. I can’t speak to how he views women in real life (I know he’s married), but I think London Fields provides an interesting challenge to the idea of how men view women in novels, and how their objectification makes them more and less attainable on print.

The narrator is Samson Young, an American author living in London at author Mark Asprey’s (a stand-in for Amis, as featured in other of Amis’s novels) flat, constructing a novel about the soon-to-happen murder of Nicola Six. He assigns Keith Talent, a petty criminal and local darts champ as the murderer, Guy Clinch, a rich and bored banker, as the foil, and himself as the novelist who interviews Nicola to be updated on the plot. At first, the novel is a darkly funny jaunt into the underworld of London, but it grows more twisted and complex as the anticipated event draws closer. The ending is unexpected and clever, drawing all the pieces of the novel together.

Nicola Six is one of the most interesting anti-heroines I’ve read yet. She has her vanity, but it doesn’t define her. She uses men, but even they cannot control her. She is frustrating, enticing, and utterly interesting, because she cannot be understood. London Fields is considered Amis’s masterpiece, and after reading it, I am inclined to agree. It’s at turns funny, dark, clever, and well-plotted, cutting through swathes of life and ennui in the late 1980s, critiquing the highly materialistic world we have constructed for ourselves. It took me a long time to read, but it was well-worth it. If you want to read Martin Amis, this would be an even better place to start than Money.

You can also read this review on my personal blog, The Universe Disturbed.

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