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Posted October 25, 2012
Highway to Success
'Believable' is the most accurate word Amazon uses to describe Martin Amis' first novel, and it is striking in the excess physical detail it reveals about the sexual and hygienic habits of teenagers, however disgusting. The story is cynical and sometimes rude, with punches pulled only when boredom weakens the protagonist, Charles Highway. Romantic this book is not, even though Charles is able to surpass his over-analysis of life and love long enough for his intuition to win him Rachel, the catch to end all catches. Amis' novel is the record of Charles' record of this affair, given to us in the twilight of his teens. Their relationship was always on the edge of a cliff, to Charles anyway, but they were able to love each other for as long as they could before that fatal flaw of teenagers set in: immaturity. Thus Amis, and really Charles too, prove themselves more capable of criticizing love than Shakespeare, proving also that trying to understand love with rationality is self-destructive, both for the relationship and its pathetic actors.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
I enjoyed reading Amis' (sorry, Charles') thought process more than the story itself, partially because Amis is a good writer but also because the story is older than writing itself. The plot cannot be vindicated, having followed countless similar stories of teenage love. Amis showed his potential as a writer, though, and has since become very successful and beloved in literary circles. That is the real benefit of this book. It might be better for you, the reader, to begin with one of his better-loved books, like Money: A Suicide Note (Penguin Ink) or London Fields, returning to his first book only if you're a big enough fan to want to follow his style down through the years. Otherwise, it's a quick, fairly enjoyable read, not disappointing but not as enlightening as Amis perhaps hoped it would be.