“The Amis Hatchet Job”

Aug 25 2012 @ 3:42pm

After reading Martin Amis' latest novel, Lionel Asbo: State of England, Mark O'Connell ponders the peculiar class of literary review that is Amis-bashing:

As a rule, the reviewer will mention at least one (but preferably many more) of the following list of topics: misogyny; Islamophobia; dentistry; patrician contempt for the working classes; sonship of Kingsley; mentorship of Bellow; friendship of Hitchens; enmity of Barnes and/or Eagleton; comparability with Jagger; earliness of success; velvetness of trousers; greatness of Money; misapprehension of nature of own talent; distinctiveness of style; disproportionate presence of style in relation to substance; tendency of style’s distinctiveness to degenerate into self-parody.

The reviewer will, before trashing this latest novel, often mention that they’ve been a fan of Amis for as long as they can remember, and that they have stuck up for him in the past when others groan at the very mention of his name. The animating question of the Amis Hatchet Job – the “whodunnit?” of the form – is usually either “How come nobody stopped him?” or “Why does he even bother?” Partly because of its inherent tendency towards exhibitionism, it can be a pretty entertaining genre, but it’s one that’s started to become a little predictable.

Recent Dish coverage of Amis here and here.