Almost Amis

Many Brooklyn writers had time to offer Mr. Amis their thoughts and advice on his change in scene.

“Brooklyn?” said the philosopher Simon Critchley. “Just like London, except fewer wankers, better Yemeni food and even a Barneys Co-op. Who knows, maybe they’ll have things in Martin’s size. Cobble Hill? I used to stalk Gabriel Byrne, when he lived on our block. Now I’ll be stalking Martin Amis.”

It’s rare for literary authors to attract stalkers, about as rare as the author who can elicit universal raves at a film premiere.

“I’m a huge Martin Amis fan,” said Simon Rich, a novelist and writer for Saturday Night Live who recently purchased a brownstone in Brooklyn Heights, “but I’m a little bit concerned for him. If he wants to be taken seriously as a Brooklyn artist, he’ll need a mustache, and last time I checked he was clean-shaven. It doesn’t matter how good Money was. He needs to grow at least a Fu Manchu or he’ll be laughed off the L train.”

Informed that Mr. Amis would be living by the F train, Mr. Rich said, “The F’s not as strict but he’ll probably still need some basic muttonchops.”

Photographs of Mr. Amis from the 1970s, when Clive James dubbed him a “stubby Jagger,” show that he did at times sport a mild set of sideburns, and his mullet haircut wouldn’t look out of place on the streets of Greenpoint today.

“It wasn’t just the way he looked,” writes Ms. Wells, Mr. Amis’ then girlfriend, of him at the time, “the skintight black velvet pants, the snakeskin boots, the gossamer shirts covered in swirling jungle flowers, with huge rounded collars and cuffs so long they must have had six buttons–it was everything about him.”

Whether he is game for behavior along the lines of the debauched weekend chronicled in his 1975 novel Dead Babies is an open question.

“If Martin Amis is interested in drugs, he can email me,” said Tao Lin, a Williamsburg resident and the author of the novel Richard Yates. “I’ll gladly help him.”

If Mr. Amis is moving to a zone of Brooklyn known better for its vegan cuisine and its proliferation of strollers than for its ease of scoring cocaine, that may be appropriate for a 62-year-old husband and father of two high-school-age children.

“I tend to hang out with other writers whose kids are connected to my kids,” said Ms. Egan. “I think everyone is softened by the life that their kids live. That’s the great equalizer: Everyone has to go to the playground no matter how angry they are. But he’s going to be Martin Amis no matter where he is.”

“I think probably his best plan of action,” said Ms. Kine, “would be to throw a block party as soon as he gets to town–just be proactive and take the upper hand. I see him manning the grill.”

Comments

  1. Amusing take on Martin Amis. Living in London I can tell you his rep is pretty much shot here (not that he’s been usurped – I would say the throne of Greatest Living British novelist is vacant) and his output is pretty much reduced to novellas published as novels via large type and wide spacing. He seems very happy – trouble is, to apply the Montherlant quote Amis himself has dropped more than once, ‘Happiness writes white.’

    Of his novels, must reads are Money (1984), London Fields (1989) and ‘The Information’ (1995) – IMO the rest you can leave. I think his memoir ‘Experience’ is great, as is the collection of criticism ‘The War Against Cliche’.

    I think you’ll find the Dean Street mentioned in ‘Money’ is a reference to the one in Soho, London.
    Not that Mr Amis will read this but if he does, Hey, you’re almost 62, ditch the short leather jacket! And while you’re at it, you can tell your old mucker Clive James to take the one he’s way too fond of sporting to the nearest clothes bank.