Rachel Papers

( 8 )

Overview

In his uproarious first novel Martin Amis, author of the bestselling London Fields, gave us one of the most noxiously believable -- and curiously touching -- adolescents ever to sniffle and lust his way through the pages of contemporary fiction. On the brink of twenty, Charles High-way preps desultorily for Oxford, cheerfully loathes his father, and meticulously plots the seduction of a girl named Rachel -- a girl who sorely tests the mettle of his cynicism when he finds himself...
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The Rachel Papers

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Overview

In his uproarious first novel Martin Amis, author of the bestselling London Fields, gave us one of the most noxiously believable -- and curiously touching -- adolescents ever to sniffle and lust his way through the pages of contemporary fiction. On the brink of twenty, Charles High-way preps desultorily for Oxford, cheerfully loathes his father, and meticulously plots the seduction of a girl named Rachel -- a girl who sorely tests the mettle of his cynicism when he finds himself falling in love with her.

The narrator of Martin Amis's uproarious first novel is at once a cynical lecher and an abject victim of puppy love--one of the most believable and curiously touching adolescents ever to lust and sniffle his way through the pages of contemporary fiction. New York calls The Rachel Papers "the best teenage sex novel since Goodbye Columbus."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Amis's vision of adolescence is an unvarnished, terrifying and hilarious one."-- New Yorker

"A truly sexy and funny book...a delight...the best teenage sex novel since Goodbye Columbus." -- New York

"Amis is a born comic novelist, in the tradition that ranges from Dickens to Waugh...He can find laughter in catastrophe and knows that morality shifts sneakily between absolutes and ambiguity...Amis's mercurial style...can rise to Joycean brilliance."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679734581
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/1/1992
  • Series: Vintage International Series
  • Edition description: Vintage
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 217,692
  • Product dimensions: 5.15 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Martin Amis
Martin Amis is the best-selling author of several books, including London Fields, Money, The Information, and, most recently, Experience. He lives in London.

Biography

The son of legendary English writer Kingley Amis, Martin Amis was born in Oxford in 1949 and attended a number of schools in Great Britain, Spain, and America. By his own admission he was a lackluster student. He spent much of his youth reading comic books, until his stepmother, the novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard, took him under her wing, introducing him to literature and encouraging him to study for university entrance. After months of furious cramming, he was accepted into Exeter College in Oxford, graduating with First Class Honors in English.

After graduation, Amis went to work as an editorial assistant at The Times Literary Supplement. In 1973, at the tender of age of 24, he published his award-winning debut novel, The Rachel Papers. Rife with the mordant black humor that would characterize all his fiction, this comic coming-of-age tale was a fitting debut for a career that would be fixated on sex, drugs, and the seamier aspects of modern culture. It also proved to be the first in a long string of bestsellers.

Amis is often grouped with the generation of British-based novelists that emerged during the 1980s and included Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, and Julian Barnes; but it is safe to say he has generated more controversy than his esteemed colleagues. No one feels neutral about Amis's novels. In a 1999 profile in Esquire, Sven Birkerts put it this way: "He is seen either as a cynically chugging bubble machine, way overrated for his hammy turns, or else as a dazzler, the next real thing."

In addition to his provocative fiction, Amis has grabbed more than his fair share of attention for antics off the page. Graced with youthful good looks, he enjoyed a reputation as a notorious womanizer (not unlike his famous father). Much photographed and buzzed about, he was dubbed early on the "enfant terrible" of English literature -- two parts writer, one part rock star. He attracted headlines like a magnet when he left his wife and children for a younger woman; when he fired his longtime literary agent, the wife of his good friend Julian Barnes; and when his new agent (unaffectionately nicknamed "the Jackal) secured for him an advance of 500,000 pounds, 20,000 pounds of which Amis spent on expensive American dental surgery.

Although reviewers are divided over Amis's long-range literary legacy, even his harshest critics begrudgingly acknowledge his stylistic genius, verbal agility, and biting, satirical wit. The novels for which he is best known (and most respected) comprise an informal trilogy: Money (1984), London Fields (1989), and The Information (1995). In addition, he has written short stories, essays, a nonfiction work on 20th-century communism, and an acclaimed memoir, Experience, detailing his relationship with his father, his writing career, and his convoluted family life. He also contributes regularly to newspapers, magazines, and journals.

Good To Know

Amis attended more than 13 schools while growing up in Great Britain, Spain and the United States.

He was named the "rock star of English literature" by the London Daily Telegraph in 1996.

Amis was profoundly shocked and grieved to discover that his long-lost, beloved cousin Lucy Partington, thought to have simply disappeared in 1973, had fallen victim to Fred West, one of England's most notorious serial killers.

In a much-publicized reunion in 1996, Amis met for the first time a young woman named Delilah Seale who was his daughter from a brief 1970s affair.

Amis has been influenced by several American novelists, including Philip Roth and John Updike, but none so profoundly as Saul Bellow, who became a mentor and something of a father figure.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Martin Louis Amis (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Oxford, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 25, 1949
    2. Place of Birth:
      Oxford, England
    1. Education:
      B.A., Exeter College, Oxford

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2005

    definately worth the read

    i loved this book! it was funny, and i found i could relate to certain aspects. i love these types of stories told through diaries. in my opinion charles highways quirks are hard not to enjoy reading about

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2000

    Hysterically Rauchy & Insightful

    This book is crucial for anyone who is full of self-doubt, is self-obsessed & requires way too much self-indulgence. Full of neurotic humor and wicked English charm. Charles Highway is absolutely hilarious and a completely absorbing character.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    English Holden Caufield!

    A good story in the vein of Catcher in the Rye....just the British version.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    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.

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2012

    Genius

    Genius

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews

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