Sinistrousness? Sinistrosity?

Martin Amis doesn't know this, but I owe him a lot. My paramour du jour, Jeremy the Wonder Boy, first came to my attention during a long and invigorating argument on whether or not Amis's novels are shite. I argued for shite.

Since then I've actually read some of them. This has put something of a dent in my formerly ironclad conviction. Not only are London Fields, Time's Arrow and The Information Not Especially Shite, Night Train is Not Shite At All. In fact it seems purpose-designed to hit every button I have. Consider:

Bee in Rach's bonnet:

Martin's response:

A novel should have a strong female protagonist.

Mike Hoolihan. Check.

Said protagonist should be world-weary as hell.

'I am a police.' Oh, check.

A novel should not insult the reader's intelligence.

Well, this is Amis; very check.

All the best novels are suffused with melancholy.

'Suicide is the night train.' Check-a-RAM-a.

So anyway. I read and love this novel. Then Luc Sante, last seen writing a quite reasonable essay about being bilingual (though not, presumably, in the Pet Shop Boys' sense of the word), weighs in with a stinging crit. (At least, I think it was Luc Sante. The review was published on Slate, which I haven't been able to get at for three days, so I can't check. They're probably running the server on Windows NT.)

Luc praises Amis with faint damns. He is condescending towards 'foreigners' writing about 'America'. He is dissatisfied with the book's denouement. He probably prefers the sort of novels written for the Master of Fine Arts program at Iowa, where the writing is Carverishly lucid and the subject matter Carverishly banal and everything is tied up with a petit epiphany, like a satin bow.

Eventually, magnanimously, our Luc concedes a certain verbal "dextrousness" on Amis's part.

Dextrousness? Ha. Just the sort of pig-ignorant malapropism that makes a thinking girl reach for her revolver. It just goes to show, kids: you can't be too careful. The enemy of my enemy is not only not my friend, he probably cheated on his SATs.

Wednesday, 4 February 1998. That's dexterity to you, you septic twat.
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