Tag Archives: Martin Amis

My new favorite quotation

Martin Amis, interviewed in Guernica:

“Look at Steven Pinker’s book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. It proves beyond any shadow of doubt that violence has declined dramatically throughout the centuries. There are various reasons for it: the rise of the state, Leviathan, the monopoly of violence, children’s rights, animal rights. They’re all positive signs. But, he says, the one he puts his money on is the invention of printing, and, funny enough, the widespread appearance of fiction. He says this taught empathy (he doesn’t like the word, but he says there is no better one). If you read a novel, you’re in someone else’s head, in three, five different people’s heads. Suddenly, the principle of ‘Don’t do anything to anyone that you wouldn’t want done to you’ becomes real in people’s minds. That’s a fantastic achievement if fiction is indeed partly responsible for it. That’s a great thing to be a part of. In the end, then, I don’t know if writers have legislated, but they have civilized.”

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Friday finds

Adventures in the book-jacket design trade, such as this very cool image for Richard Montanari’s The Echo Man. Other examples here.

What do you do with a sleeping baby? Why, build fantasy worlds around her, of course.

Author and blogger Tobias Buckell considers the problem of pirated e-books and concludes that maybe the problem isn’t that much of a problem.

For you Philip K. Dick fans, here’s an illustrated list of places mentioned in the man’s mainstream novel, Confessions of a Crap Artist.

Martin Amis says he would only write a book for children if he had suffered some kind of brain injury. This from the man who wrote the script for Saturn 3.

International politics and zombies.

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Sinister in suburbia

Martin Amis pays tribute to the late author J.G. Ballard:

Ballard was a great exponent of the Flaubertian line — that writers should be orderly and predictable in their lives, so that they can be savage and sinister in their work. He lived in a semi-detached in Shepperton, which might as well have been called “Dunroamin,” and there was the tomato-red Ford Escort parked in its slot in the front garden. When I wrote a long profile of him in 1984, I arrived at 11 in the morning and his first words were “Whisky! Gin! Vodka!” He told me that “Crash freaks” from, say, the Sorbonne would visit him expecting to find a miasma of lysergic-acid and child abuse. But, in fact, what they found was a robustly rounded and amazingly cheerful, positively sunny — suburbanite.

As it turned out, the wildest behavior indulged in by the  author of such wildly disturbing works as The Atrocity Exhibition, Crash and Empire of the Sun was to have a glass of Scotch every hour of the day, starting early in the morning. It wasn’t exactly an indulgence: when Ballard found himself a widower with a demanding writing schedule and children to support, that hourly dose was what he needed to stay functional. He also worked to push back the starting time for that first glass.

I wouldn’t recommend that for anybody else. Personally, I’d stick with coffee — or some nice green tea. But it seemed to work for Ballard, and his books worked for me.

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