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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Time's Arrow by Martin Amis 
7th-Aug-2006 11:59 pm
Martin Amis is the son of Kingsley Amis, another famous British author.

Amis, Martin. Time's Arrow; or, The Nature of the Offense. New York: Vintage International, 1992.
Summary: A man observes his entire life, from death to birth, in reverse. His entire life is haunted by his time as a doctor committing unspeakable atrocities in Nazi concentration camps.
Comments: What they say about the entirety of one's life flashing before one's eyes, perhaps? Only I don't think we generally assume that it happens in reverse. In any case, telling a story in reverse proves both hilarious and revealing, and the strength of this unorthodox novel is in the beginning when "Tod Friendly" (one of many aliases) is living his twilight years. The story might, in fact, actually get bogged down by Amis's excess cleverness because, by comparison, the protagonist's career as a Nazi seems rather quick and forced, lacking the affective, universally human quality of the earlier chapters. Still, there is a redemptive aspect to it--all of the romantic relationships and unlucky people that Odilo Unverdorben (his true name) destroyed the first time around, his silent observer sees created...and appreciates. As if such sins could ever be redeemed.
Notes: trade paperback (library book)
Rating: 6.5/10 - Flawed and ambitious, but still well worth checking out.
8th-Aug-2006 12:54 pm (UTC)
Martin Amis, oh boy. Haven't read this one yet, but I rather like him ... still, reading him always makes me feel even more cynical than usual about the human species. I find most of his characters to be utterly filth-ridden individuals, but somehow (masochistically perhaps) enjoy reading about them. I'm nearly done with "London Fields" at the moment, and it's the third book of his I've read. And yes, sometimes he's too clever for his own good.
8th-Aug-2006 04:23 pm (UTC)
Actually, what I find interesting about Time's Arrow is that the protagonist IS a horrific (womanizing, mass-murdering) individual, but his alter ego narrator who is living his life in reverse is rather one-note "I love everybody" sort of personality. It makes for an compelling contrast when reading.
8th-Aug-2006 01:24 pm (UTC)
This is my favourite Amis book (well...out of the whopping three that I've read). I'll admit I enjoyed it primarily for its cleverness, above all else.
8th-Aug-2006 04:04 pm (UTC)
What're the two other Amis books you've read, out of curiosity? I've also read three of them, not including this one. Initially it was the cleverness that sort of drew me too, but I've realised there's something nasty that keeps me interested in reading his books above his general cleverness and disparaging humour, and that is that he has a really uncanny nack for excavating the absolute worst in people and holding it aloft for us all to see.
8th-Aug-2006 04:20 pm (UTC)
I've read MONEY and LONDON FIELDS, both of which were foisted on me by other people. And neither of which was a favourite of mine. I certainly recognize his skill as an author, he's just not really my "thing." By and large, I find myself put off by his relentless cynicism (although I don't necessarily disagree with his observations of human nature, just don't know that I enjoy contemplating them). I'm not much for black comedy or satire, even. I much prefer books that have a strong emotional impact and I think Amis falls way short of that. Still, of all three books I read, I was left breathless at the virtuoso achievement of TIME'S ARROW and, thus, can say I enjoyed it.
1st-Sep-2006 05:24 am (UTC)
Review archived.
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