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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Martin Amis: 'Men are terrible. We can't help it'

If Martin Amis is worried about security – about random visits, say, from Islamist nutters seeking revenge, or from latte-sipping liberals whose anti-torture instincts have, on reading recent Amis, been sorely tested – he clearly hasn't told his nine-year-old daughter. We've already had a nice chat about her day, and her lovely pink top, and the portrait on the wall, when I realise that this dark-eyed little girl, who pressed the buzzer on the outside gate, and opened the front door, and welcomed me in, hasn't actually told either of her parents that I'm there. She's delightful, of course, but I can feel the taxi-meter of precious interview time ticking away. So finally I crack and off she trots – serious, soulful, sweet – and here they are, Mummy and Daddy, one of the most glamorous literary couples in the world.

Mummy is Isabel Fonseca, the beautiful American heiress, writer, novelist, and second wife. And Daddy – well, we know who Daddy is. Amis fils, he used to be called, this writer of brilliant, glittering, savagely comic novels, this writer of coruscating, polysyllabic, look-at-me prose, this writer who is one of the most famous writers alive. Amis fils he used to be called to distinguish him from Amis père, angry young man turned grumpy old devil, poet, curmudgeon, pen pal of Larkin and creator of – yes – savagely cruel comic novels, and of one of the funniest books in the English language, Lucky Jim. If Kingsley was the colossus who loomed – a colossus who, famously, gave up reading his son's books – Martin was the sexy one, the hip one, the one who wrote the blistering satires on money and success, but did pretty well at garnering both.


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