Skip to content
Paperback The War Against Cliche: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000 Book

ISBN: 0375727167

ISBN13: 9780375727160

The War Against Cliche: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000

Select Format

Select Condition ThriftBooks Help Icon


Format: Paperback

Condition: New

Save $2.53!
List Price $19.95
Almost Gone, Only 3 Left!
Ships within 24 hours

Book Overview

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD WINNER - In this virtuosic, career-spanning collection, Martin Amis, "one of the most gifted novelists of his generation" (TIME), takes on James Joyce and Elvis Presley, Nabokov and English football, Jane Austen and Penthouse Forum, William Burroughs and Hillary Clinton, and more. " Written] with intelligence and ardor and panache.... Speaks not just to a lifetime of reading but also to a fascination...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Brandishing the sword of talent against cliche

Martin Amis is one of those rare writers who found his voice staggeringly early in life (one of his greatest novels, the Rachel Papers came out when he was only 23) and has remained on a largely mercurial track to become one of Britain's most celebrated author-critics. The Introduction to 'The War Against Cliche' is a retrospective commentary on the decline of literary criticism from its 60s and 70s heyday: 'In the 60s you could live on ten shillings a week: you slept on people's floors and sponged off your friends and sang for your supper - about literary criticism'. Then the oil crises hiked up prices, democracy unleashed its dynamic forces against elite forms of culture and criticism became a dispensible frippery of the educated middle classes. Now, in the era of the internet, everyone in a sense has become a literary critic - witness the tens of thousands of reviews posted on this website. Amis ultimately isn't adverse to this. He likens Literature to a 'great garden', trampled extensively by public participation. But this is Eden, it is unfallen, therefore the ignorant and the illiterate cannot undermine what lies at the root of great literature: talent. The essays in this book can be linked by a desire on the part of the writer to pinpoint and appreciate talented writing amongst the millions of words that have been scribed in English Literature. Amis ultimately finds it in the writings of the great American authors of the late 20th Century - Bellow, Updike and, most notably, Nabokov. But the journey to uncover these deities of the literary scene is laden with wrong turns and amusing digressions. Thus Amis presents us with an amusing consideration of a Hillary Clinton book on childrearing: ''Village' is a portrait of a First Lady who deserves a second change. And a second term. This is not the unsmiling feminist, the ballbreaking ambulance-chaser who came to Washington a few years ago', witty send ups of the likes of Thomas Harris - Amis considers 'Hannibal' to be a 'harpoon of unqualified kitsch'. Essays on subjects as diverse as chess, nuclear weapons and football are included amongst other things. Longer, more quintissentially literary essays focus on interesting themes such as the nihilistic perversity of J.G. Ballard, why Cyril Connolly only managed to produce one novel, and a mediocre one at that - he was corrupted by too much reviewing apparently, and why novels such as Don Quixote and Ulyssees can be considered to be undisputed masterpieces and, at the same time, unreadable. Amis is no fawning, simpering reviewer, willing to massage the fragile egos of writers and publishers alike. His prose is characteristically juicy, acerbic, witty and, at times, viciously damning. He has little time for writers who can't even master the nuts and bolts of English prose - see, for instance, his comments on the fallacy of the Elegant Variation in a biography of Lincoln. Some books he patently finds the very notion of rediculous, such as a Who'


perhaps the funniest, most acutely perceptive book i've ever read. Amis is excellent on style, wide-ranging in scope (early on, we have the unforgettable depiction of the new man, nappy in one hand, pack of tarot cards in the other), and amusingly critical of his youthful self (he lambasted a new collection of Coleridge's work without bothering to thoroughly acquaint himself with its contents).i didn't agree with all of his 'findings'. while Amis makes an excellent case for the undeniable stylistic mastery of Bellow's 'The Adventures of Augie March', he doesn't acknowledge the rambling nature of the book, the great lists of characters that are wheeled on and off all the time so that the reader struggles to remember anyone but the narrator and his brother, the boring avuncular tone.overall - leaves other literary critics fumbling with their trainers in the starting blocks while he's already run the race, picked up the medal, and is taking his shower in the changing rooms.

Commentary from a Smartmouth

If Martin Amis were in your creative writing class, you would probably love his writing, but hate his guts. The man is a terrific, terrifying critic and it feels almost absurd to concoct a review of his collection of essays and reviews in The War Against Cliche. Amis is a smartmouth--he doesn't hold back, but what he has to say is so witty and clever that it's OK (so long as, I think, it is not your work he is commenting on). His writing is fabulous and he is not afraid to say exactly what he thinks, not afraid to offend anybody. This is a great collection.

Wit and - well deserved - criticism

This collection of Amis'best essays cover a wide variety of topics from reviews of good and bad writers to Hillary Clinton, a hilarious endictement of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, The Space Shield, Chess and an outline of the books he most admires from Nabokov to Vidal. i have yet to read all the essays and have thus far concentrated on the less litertay ones, those that deal with public figures and issues. i found thee alone to be worth the price of the book. As the title of the book suggests Amiks aims his criticism toward uncritical and banal thinkers. it is not, however, a necessarily political book. Amis criticizes art on its own merit and not its relevance to a social or political cause. In this sense it is different than an another excellent essay collection by Christopher Hitchens, Unacknowledged Legislation, who stresses the political obligations of writers.
Copyright © 2023 Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Do Not Sell/Share My Personal Information | Cookie Policy | Cookie Preferences | Accessibility Statement
ThriftBooks® and the ThriftBooks® logo are registered trademarks of Thrift Books Global, LLC
GoDaddy Verified and Secured