Reviews: Book

Martin Amis, in addition to being the author of controversial, misanthropic, and sometimes brilliant novels, also undertakes many shorter reporting and interviewing assignments for the literary publications of the day. This is a collection of such articles from the past decade and a half. There's something for the whole family--conversations with several disparate novelists (Greene, Updike, Ballard, Rushdie, Burgess), a non-conversation with Madonna, an account of Elton John's soccer team touring China, musings on women's tennis, a Republican convention, the mindset of those whose work is "strategizing" about nuclear weapons, and darts. Among the best pieces are the ones about the mindgames involved in playing chess at the highest levels, a hilarious account of the fear and loathing involved in Amis' snooker rivalry with author Julian Barnes, and an essay featuring a young Amis' bemusement at the absurd spectacle of a gaggle of photographers trying to cajole a topless sunbather in Cannes into turning over. This collection features the wit and wordplay for which Amis is justly renowned, but little of the misanthropy for which he is notorious. (Gabe)

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