HEAVY WATER and Other Stories by Martin Amis

HEAVY WATER and Other Stories

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A miscellany of nine stories from English novelist Amis (Night Train, 1998, etc.), some dating back twenty years and two never before published. Martin Amis is well-known for having inherited much of his father Kingsley's legendary spleen, but his misanthropy is somehow crueler than his old man's. Kingsley Amis's angry young men were typical English outsiders snarling their contempt at the toffs who had kept them down, whereas Martin's boys were too jaded by the time they left Oxford to have the energy to hate anyone. They can be very witty, however, like the writers Alistair and Luke in ""Career Move"": Alistair lives in a shabby part of north London, hangs out at pub readings, and struggles to get published in little magazines put out at irregular intervals, whereas Luke develops concepts (from his Stairmaster) with his agent, flies to Hollywood for contract signings, and bas to put up with egomaniacs throwing temper tantrums over draft revisions--the irony being that Alistair writes science-fiction screenplays and Luke is a poet. The previously unpublished ""The Coincidence of the Arts"" offers a more realistic portrait of two arty scoundrels in New York: Sir Rodney Peel, an English painter, and Pharsin Courier, his African-American novelist friend. Sir Rodney carries on an affair with Pharsin's wife behind his back but nearly gives himself away when circumstances require him to express an opinion on a manuscript of Pharsin's that he's not read. The title story is an unusually straightforward--for Amis--account of a cruise to Spain taken by a single mother and her sickly boy. And there's plenty of the usual Amis horseplay in pieces like ""Let Me Count the Times"" (a staid husband tries to enliven his sex life through some rather extreme measures) and ""The Janitor on Mars"" (about, well, the janitor on Mars), published here for the first time. A grab bag of baubles with no single thread running through them. Amis fans will eat it up--but they've probably read almost everything here already.

Pub Date: Jan. 27th, 1999
ISBN: 037570115X
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Harmony