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Writing About Writers

Michiko and Martin

An article of sorts in a British newspaper (sort of) spawns some cogitation.

Book Cover My first impulse upon encountering this article, found in/on the ostensibly British Guardian newspaper/website penned (forgive the old-school locution) by their Manhattan correspondent Ed Pilkington, was dismissal. And upon short reflection my view remained unchanged. I’m not sufficiently acquainted with current brain science (actually not familiar at all) to comment on what electronic/chemical reaction might have taken place in the hours after reading Pilkington’s comment on the New York Times’s chief book critic’s review of Martin Amis’s new novel The Pregnant Widow his new novel, but I did begin to reflect on it.

Initially I considered unpacking the info-nutritional value of this, uh, news item—that Ms. Kakatuni had concisely dispatched Amis’s hard work by opening her review with “This remarkably tedious novel…” Well, if you know something about either novelist or critic in this skit, then that’s no surprise or news either. Or, by conjecturing about Martin Amis’s spoiled breakfast, were we being given proximity to the Guardian correspondent’s imagined Amis to establish a (false) sense of intimacy with the much celebrated and celebrified author, a member of oa substantial literary clique of Oxford boys like Christopher Hitchens, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie, and at one time Julian Barnes?

Needless to say this cerebration was on the verge of getting out of hand when in a stroke of revelation (or an aneurysm) I realized that I was now at least three times removed from the real matter at hand: that Martin Amis, who rightfully has a hefty literary CV based on his formidable talents, has a new novel. And to mention a critic’s unfavorable commentary on said book only made sense if one were attempting to rebut it or (even) agree.

Thus, after no further cogitation, I decided this above discussed piece was a cheap trick. And in writing this I was flirting with being an accessory after the fact.

So it goes.
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