So I finished part one of Martin Amis' The Information, the book RR and I chose for this year's Co-habitational Reading Challenge, so I thought this would be a good time to provide an update on how it's going. In a word: amazingly. We kicked things off on the weekend, with me reading aloud the opening scene (with that iconic first sentence, "Cities at night, I feel, contain men who cry in their sleep and then say Nothing") and then reading together, silently--she on the couch and me in my reclining wingback. When one of us chortled, the other asked to have the line read aloud. Often, we were on the same paragraph anyway, and this made for a joyous and endearing literary experience.
Seeing how it has been nearly 15 years since I've read this novel, there were lots of things I had forgotten about it. Like how madly, compulsively readable it is. The Information achieves the summit of page turner despite its fragmented narration, loathsome protagonist, 10-dollar vocabulary and risky subject matter. It's about a failed novelist told from the perspective of amorphous "I." It has an elevated diction and is very conscious of its own cliches. And yet it works. Thus far, it all works.
Rereading The Information has reminded me of a great paradox about Martin Amis: while his style is one of the most inimitable in the business, he continues to breed a class of imitators. I sadly have been guilty of this: many of the stories I wrote as a younger man tried to mimic his approach to prose, and of course they all failed. Rereading this novel has helped me to accept that there can be only one Martin Amis--and really, that's for the best. I wouldn't want 10,000 men trying to write like him. We would all be lesser for it.
Of course, the real joy of this reading challenge is to partake in it with RR. She'll be putting up her own posts about it soon, but I can say that I've really enjoying hearing her insights across the couch and at the dinner table. And as I suspected, it's made me closer to her just as much as it has made me closer to the book itself.
Stay tuned for more updates. They'll be coming soon.