Monday, January 29, 2007

Writer, party of one.

Ah, but of course. Of course, in the end, Richard hits upon the perfect plan by which to sabotage his friend the writer. It's so obvious; why didn't I think of that?! I feel like I shouldn't say what the plan is, that I shouldn't "spoil" it. That would of course require someone for whom it is to be spoiled to be a)reading this blog b)reading the book c)caring one way or the other if the ending is ruined. Group A is so small in itself, and B might not even exist, necessarily making C non-existent as well.

Here's another thing about writers. OK, Amis (as Richard) is SO DARKLY FUNNY about poets in this book. Richard's wife went through a period before their marriage but after they two had initially been together in which she saw other writers. And by "saw" we of course mean knew. In the biblical sense. So he has this whole spectrum on which he places the writers and it's really cyncial and funny. Like, of course she's going to sleep with poets, but novelists? That hurts. And so on. And he relates it to a theory that the harder things are to write, the less the writer gets paid for them ("just ask the poet at the bus stop") ... and that particular continuum ends with screenplays on top. *smirk*

But he's even funny about poets besides that, earlier on. He says nothing happens to novelists: they're born, they get sick, they die... "They learn to drive, unlike poets (poets don't drive. Never trust a poet who can drive. Never trust a poet at the wheel. If he can drive, distrust the poems)." But then he adds, "Although they don't or can't drive, poets get around more." - p. 95

So it's really funny when he returns to this riff on poets and their other-ness later in the book. I definitely get a sense Amis could be a bit like me (and a million other writers, surely) who went through a poetry phase, or maybe never quite left it, but never really called ourselves a poet and nothing but a poet.

That word, poet, is one that's hard to take upon oneself. There certainly is a lot of pressure. I'm with you, Amis. Whither poetry, eh?

But don't forget, Amis is flat-out hilarious sometimes, like while they're on the U.S. tour:

"At Denver's Stapleton International Airport, at five o'clock in the morning, nobody wanted to work. So they had a robot doing it. A computer, with a robot voice: female. Richard thought that the robot, considering it was a robot and every inch a slave, didn't take any shit, always telling him to move on, to unload quickly and move on, to deposit bags quickly and move on." - p. 258

I so want Martin Amis to be my friend. He makes still another point, however, about writers: that in the end, they really are at their best when they're alone. He uses this point to illustrate that it therefore follows that they're hard to live with. But there are still larger implications.

It is perhaps these observations if nothing else that convince me I am in fact a writer.

1 comment:

micah said...

i'm really enjoying reading your thoughts and so on about the book - makes me realise how much of the book i have forgotten, for one - but i like your absorbtion of it and your style.

i'm sure as you move through the alphabet, i'll have more thoughts and recommendations (and would probably join you).