Visiting Mrs. Nabokov

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Overview

To this tantalizing nonfiction collection Martin Amis brings the same megawatt wit, wickedly acute perception, and ebullient wordplay that characterize his novels. He encompasses the full range of contemporary politics and culture (high and low) while also traveling to China for soccer with Elton John and to London's darts-crazy pubs in search of the perfect throw. Throughout, he offers razor-sharp takes on such subjects as:

American politics: "If history is a nightmare from ...

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Overview

To this tantalizing nonfiction collection Martin Amis brings the same megawatt wit, wickedly acute perception, and ebullient wordplay that characterize his novels. He encompasses the full range of contemporary politics and culture (high and low) while also traveling to China for soccer with Elton John and to London's darts-crazy pubs in search of the perfect throw. Throughout, he offers razor-sharp takes on such subjects as:

American politics: "If history is a nightmare from which we are trying to awake, then the Reagan era can be seen as an eight-year blackout. Numb, pale, unhealthily dreamless: eight years of Do Not Disturb."

Chess: "Nowhere in sport, perhaps in human activity, is the gap between the tryer and the expert so astronomical.... My chances of a chess brilliancy are the 'chances' of a lab chimp and a type writer producing King Lear."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The brainy, sarcastic, tender intelligence at the center of these pieces can make you laugh out loud: they can also move you to tears." — People

John Updike: "His fascination with the observable world is utterly promiscuous: he will address a cathedral and a toilet seat with the same peeled-eyeball intensity."

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
From his visit with Vera Nabokov to comments on RoboCop II, the author of London Fields covers politics, literature, sports and entertainment in this collection of essays.
Library Journal
Above average for its genre, this assortment of essays from the best-selling English author breaks roughly into three groups: literary (generally British, including the title piece and pieces on Graham Greene, Rushdie, Larkin, Burgess, etc.); filmic, including RoboCop II , Cannes (in a note, Amis wonders why toplessness concerned him so, which others wondered at the time), Polanski, etc.; pop culture, including John Lennon, the Rolling Stones (Jagger is a ``vitamin-packed unit''), Madonna, games (Kasparov/Karpov, darts, and an odd poker game sponsored by GQ for Amis to cover, with A. Alvarez, David Mamet, and others). Other occasional pieces appear as well (e.g., regarding the 1988 Republican Convention), but Amis's keen insights and keener prose keep them from seeming stale or dated. Recommended for libraries where collected pieces find a readership.-- Robert E. Brown, Onondaga Cty. P.L., Syracuse, N.Y.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679757931
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/2/1995
  • Series: Vintage International Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,405,936
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

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

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2001

    Intelligent & Witty

    In 'Visiting Mrs Nabakov' Amis has collected together some of his finest peices of non-fiction. At times thought provoking or hilarious, it is a collection that will introduce even the most hardened 'non-fiction-phobe' to the genre.

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