Interview: Martin Amis

by James Knight
from Vice Magazine

Martin Amis is one of the great writers of contemporary fiction. Even if he’d given up putting pen to paper after his third novel, Money, this would be an irrefutable fact. Period. Sorry. He writes grippingly of ugly characters consuming for the sake of consumption, blind to their own greed. His hideous, and occasionally hilarious, creations have always been both of their own time and chillingly in line with whatever is going on outside your window on any given day.

Amis gives interviews rarely and has a reputation for being spiky and guarded. Having read all of his work and been more than a little bit into it, actually picking up the phone to talk to him had me shaking like a wee little leaf on a tree. Luckily, Amis (“Marty” to his buddies) was kind, willing, and open. He also has the most mesmerizing way of emphasizing words midsentence. Go watch him talk about his book House of Meetings on Charlie Rose on YouTube right now and you’ll hear what I mean.

Vice: Having grown up with the towering novelist Kingsley Amis for a father, was there a point where you made a conscious decision to be “a writer,” or was it always sort of a given?

Martin Amis: At around 13, a certain self-awareness came over me as I was writing prose and poems in notebooks and diaries. What you are doing at that age is communing with yourself in a new way and becoming articulate within yourself. I think that everyone goes through that state and the people who end up becoming writers are simply those who never grow out of it. I never did. I also have to admit my father as an early influence. I read his stuff, but I also felt like it was an independent decision that I made to be a writer. I knew that it wasn’t a case of just writing a single novel and thinking, “I’ve done that now,” or that I’d impressed my father and purged the influence. I had the feeling that it would be a long-haul thing—in a good way. more

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