Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thursday Review: Money

My Amazon friend Ethan Cooper loves Martin Amis.  I am not as much of a fan.  I did read his House of Meetings, which I thought was a lot better.  Recently I read a list of 25 "asshole authors" which featured Amis as well as other luminaries like Hemingway, Joyce, and Norman Mailer.  By comparison I think Amis's sins were pretty light; ridiculing children's books isn't quite on the same level as shooting your wife for instance.

by Martin Amis
(3/5 stars)

While "Money" is a highly entertaining, raunchy yarn, it suffers when read 20+ years later from being an '80s novel. Like every story about the 1980s--see "Wall Street," "Less Than Zero," or "Bonfire of the Vanities" for examples--it's about greed and excess, which is what you'd expect about a book called "Money."

Since this book was published in 1984, Amis probably got to the well before Oliver Stone, Bret Easton Ellis, or Tom Wolfe, but having read/watched those, this novel feels redundant. The only saving virtue is that Amis only focuses on the one '80s staple of greed with only a vague reference to AIDS and slight mentions of cocaine, so at least it doesn't feel, like, totally '80s.

For the obligatory plot summary, John Self is a TV commercial director, the type who would have made the notorious Paris Hilton ad for Hardee's/Carl's Jr. John is relatively content with his gold-digging girl Selina and consuming mass quantities of alcohol, pornography, and fast food. Then a rich young entrepreneur named Fielding Goodney gives John the chance to direct a movie based loosely on John's life called "Good Money." The film will put John seriously in the money, so he jets across the pond to New York City. The actors are pretty much like you'd expect--all self-centered complainers about as bright as a 10-watt bulb--and the script from a feminist writer seems completely unworkable. While trying to get this cast and script together, John consumes more booze, more pornography, more fast food, and plenty more females. He tries to clean up his act for the wealthy and sophisticated Martina, but a comeuppance is just around the corner.

On a side note, the writer John convinces to help revise the script is named Martin Amis, yes, THAT Martin Amis. I know some authors like to put themselves in their novels (cough, Philip Roth, cough) but it strikes me as just a wee bit arrogant to put yourself in your own story. Why not do like most authors and use a vaguely fictionalized version of yourself with a different name? At least then we can choose not to believe the author's casting himself into his own story.

At any rate, as I said in the beginning, the writing is entertaining as John goes from one raunchy escapade to the other. After a while all the boozing and sex got to feel a little repetitive as I wondered where the story was going. But you certainly won't be bored in reading this novel. You just might feel you've already read it.

That is all.


  1. The 80's...I had a mullet!
    I've never read Amis, however I have looked over his book The Second Plane. Snippets of news articles, and such.

  2. Stephen King somehow ended up in the lost book of the Dark Tower series. It happens.

    1. "lost" means "last"...carry on, carry on...

    2. Curious, did that bug you when King did it? It was the Song of Susannah, If I recall, correctly. Where they traveled to earth and hung out with King for a bit.

  3. I didn't read much in the 80s because I was too busy working and raising a family, so maybe I should read this book. Food for thought.

  4. This reminds me of the old Leisure Suit Larry games that were just an excuse to make crass jokes. That's the 80s for you I guess.

  5. I just saw this this morning.

    I read that same article about the authors, and I agree with you. I wasn't even sure that Amis' counted as that bad, let alone in comparison.

    This book sounds like "American Psycho" with less sex and less psycho. And that book wasn't anything great in the first place.



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