MARTIN AMIS's bestsellers include the novels Money, London Fields and The Information, as well as his memoir, Experience. He lives in London.
Amis revisits themes from his early novels-sex, class resentment, lust, humiliation, obsession-with the grim perceptiveness of experience in this fascinating return to form. It's 1970, and 20-year-old Keith Nearing is spending the summer in Italy with a small group of friends, primary among them on-again/off-again girlfriend Lily and her gorgeous, unfortunately named friend, Scheherazade. The easiness between Keith and Lily begins to crumble as Lily picks up on Keith's perhaps requited attraction to Scheherazade. As Lily torments Keith-at first playfully, and later cruelly-and Keith inches closer to pulling off an all-consuming sexual coup, Amis milks a surprising amount of tension from a fairly wispy plot: will Keith get Scheherazade into the sack? The second half, with its unexpected turns and brutal developments (it is never a good thing to be named "Keith" in an Amis novel), could enjoy an easier conjunction with the first half, but the prose is as brilliant as ever, and the cast is amazingly well done. After the disappointment of Yellow Dog and the relative slimness of The House of Meetings, this smart, meaty novel is a revelation. (May) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
The summer of 1970 leaves its mark on a young man trying to cope with the whirlwind changes brought on by the sexual revolution. Amis's latest tour de force (after House of Meetings and Yellow Dog) revolves around Keith Nearing, a man buffeted by time, memory, and regret. During an Italian holiday, Keith and his friends while away the hours with philosophical conversation and carnal longings, a heady mix with repercussions that last into adulthood. Surrounded by impossibly lovely young women, Keith struggles to make sense of both the English novel and his own desires, a toss-up that frequently ends in a draw. Told primarily in flashback, the narrative alternates between the seminal summer in Italy and Keith's subsequent adulthood experiences. Readers who enjoy a dab of suspense with their literary fiction will relish how Amis gradually teases out story-line resolutions, while those with a taste for symbolism will appreciate how Keith's experiences come to embody the sexual longings of an entire generation. VERDICT Earthy, passionate, literate, and poignant; pick this for your highbrow beach read. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/10.]-Leigh Anne Vrabel, Carnegie Lib. of Pittsburgh Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
"From the very first sentence it is inimitably Amis. . . . The Pregnant Widow is Amis at his absolute and unique best." "-- The Economist ""The Pregnant Widow is . . . Amis's finest novel for a long time. It is close to a masterpiece. . . . Read it: it is hilarious, often wonderfully perceptive, uncompromisingly ambitious and written by a great master of the English language. In a time when many of our novelists are hedging their bets, Amis is gloriously undaunted." "-- Financial Times ""Moving and humane, The Pregnant Widow also captivates by the accustomed wit and elegance of its style. . . . Amis is consistently bold, visual and accurate. And the writing is always apt to inflate the remotest parts of the novel with observed life. . . . It is beautifully achieved, cunningly relaxed, and reveals considerable emotional depth in its last pages." "-- The Telegraph ""Delight us Amis does, and as few can." "-- The Independent ""It's so mean and fun and gossipy that I found myself . . . literally shaking my head with satisfaction. One of The Pregnant Widow's great orgasmic pleasures is the return . . . of Amis's mighty prose. . . . It's all tight and poppy "--" the kind of writing I'm tempted to quote all day long." "-- New York Magazine " """I am deeply envious of how funny The Pregnant Widow is. Amis is very, very funny about sex. I began folding down the pages every time I laughed out loud and now my copy is like a child's pop-up book. The pages fan open. . . . Fun? Yes. Erotic? Yes." "-- "Lisa Moore, "The Globe and Mail " "One of the English language's greatest living writers is back on top of his game." ""-- "Georgia Straight "