Like Pynchon, I really want to be a Martin Amis fan. He’s certainly got that British wit that I love. Also, he populates his novels with unlikable blowhards, which I’ve always enjoyed for some reason. Nothing annoys me quite like an overly likable main character.
I began with Amis’ Money, which I found quite funny, odd, and full of debauchery. It was just the thing I was looking for at the time; a cynical exploration into what it means to be an “American” told through the eyes of a hapless, greedy, idiot that ultimately fails in his attempt at glory, leaving the reader laughing at his bottom-feeding.
Unlike Pynchon, Amis is much more readable and easy to follow, which is why I chose to read The Information following the psychological torture of Gravity’s Rainbow. I figured it would be a breezy read that I could use to cleanse my pallet. This turned out not to be entirely true.
For whatever reason, this book could not grab me the way Money did. Like the other novel, Amis’ main character in The Information is juvenile in his attitude toward women and friends; a cynical asshole to put it simply. In this case, the main character is Richard Tull, a failing writer who develops an obsession with his friend, Gwyn, who despite his pedestrian writing, becomes a world famous author.
I normally enjoy tales of writers hating other writers and the battle of egos. And I did enjoy this story.
The problem is that The Information is waaayy too long. Halfway through, scenes of Richard trying to sabotage his friend with a pitiful gang of local toughs grew repetitive and boring.
There are some laughs along the way, mostly owned by the gang, whose members are a mix of dumb-guy/smart-guy that always works well in comedy. But it just never seems to go anywhere.
Just when I was about to drop out of the book completely, a weird twist shows up that had me at least mildly interested for the next 50 pages or so (I won’t give the twist away unless you ask). But this change in perspective also goes on too long, to where it didn’t seem shocking anymore, but rather boring.
There’s also some extreme over-writing in the The Information (ironic that I mention this since I’m a guilty over-writer myself). The language grows so twisted and erudite in some of its sentences that the jokes often get lost in the labyrinth of words. I know this is a British thing, but it’s been done better by Amis himself, nevermind the works of Oscar Wilde and numerous other British humorists.
I won’t give up on Amis yet. He’s still got a .500 batting average with me so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. There were certainly aspects of the novel I enjoyed. I just wish there weren’t so much damn information.