Thursday, January 17, 2013

Conclusion: The Cohabitational Reading Challenge

So I finally finished The Information the other day and my verdict is clear – the book is a work of genius. Unlike some other rereads I’ve done over the last few years, this one really does hold up to a more mature set of eyes. In this novel, Amis is at his most caustic, most hilarious, and (dare I say) most subversive. The story of Richard Tull and his odyssey to destroy his oldest friend’s career is breathtaking in its complexity, humour and relentless eschewing of literary cliché.

With so many complicated threads going on all at once in the novel, I feared that the ending could in no way satisfy or live to my expectations. But Amis managed to pull that very difficult feat - to have gratifying closure to a very long novel. The book's final betrayals - one involving Richard pinning plagiarism onto Gwyn using the resources at vanity press where he works, another involving Gywn and Richard's wife Gina - feel neither contrived nor predictable. We aren't given a pat conclusion to Richard's situation, nor are we left feeling that all of the subtext about cosmology and our place in the vast universe was for not. This is the midlife crisis writ large, and it works on multiple levels.

Since I quoted the opening line of The Information in one of my other posts, I see it as only right to quote the last here. I had forgotten how beautifully this novel closes--I love this line almost as much as the first. I'll leave it here for you, giving Amis himself the last word on this series. "And then there is the information, which is nothing, and comes at night."

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