Martin Amis’s twelfth novel reimagines the sexual revolution as a comedy of manners, with deadly serious intentionsby Tom Chatfield / February 1, 2010 / Leave a comment
Published in February 2010 issue of Prospect Magazine
The Pregnant Widow
By Martin Amis (Jonathan Cape, £18.99)
Over the last decade, one nagging question has increasingly vexed the literary commentariat: is Martin Amis turning into his father? Fulminations against “Islamo-fascism” and modernity’s idle relativism have, together with the advancing years, convinced some observers that a familial pattern is being played out. A young Turk shocks the establishment with the wit and verve of his debut, enjoys spectacular (by literary standards) success and notoriety, and then spends his last couple of decades lurching steadily to the right and lamenting the awfulness of modern times.
According to this model, Amis junior—who turned 60 last year—is about due for an autumnal fictional flowering. His father finally consolidated his status as a major British author at the age of 64, with the 1986 publication of The Old Devils, which won him the Booker prize that has so far eluded his son. Martin Amis has not written a great work of fiction since The Information—one of the most spectacularly entertaining accounts of artistic envy ever committed to print—in 1995. Is this the return to form we have all been hoping for?