This is a very easily read book. Very reminiscent to the style of Palahniuk, Lipsyte and Vonnegut, this is a tale told by an I, a 34-year-old Englishman named John Self, who is employed in the pornography trade. As he delves into the USA he becomes set in old ways.
<blockquote>Refreshed by a brief blackout, I got to my feet and went next door. The mirror looked on, quite unimpressed, as I completed a series of rethinks in the hired glare of the windowless bathroom. I cleaned my teeth, combed my rug, clipped my nails, bathed my eyes, gargled, showered, shaved, changed — and still looked like shit. Jesus,'I'm so fat these days. I tell you, I appal myself in the tub and on the can. I sit slumped on the ox-collar seat like a clutch of plumbing, the winded boiler of a thrashed old tramp. How did it happen? It can't just be all the booze and the quick food I put away. No, I must have been pencilled in for this a long time ago. My dad isn't fat. My mother wasn't either. What's the deal? Can money fix it? I need my whole body drilled down and repaired, replaced. I need my body capped is what I need. I'm going to do it, too, the minute I hit the money.</blockquote>
It's a bit Dashiell Hammett, too. The sleuth. But no sleuthing here, just living. Self, with his money in the pocket, trying to find Selina, seemingly the woman of his dreams. Is he sure? How can he be? Self's an alcoholic, always on the bend, never on the mend.
<blockquote>Extremity is the only element of surprise. Hit them with everything. No quarter.</blockquote>
It feels as though Amis has given it his all to write a daily diary as though the alcoholic I is a child, a no-gooder who doesn't remember and gets told of what he's been through and deserves. At times this works, other times it feels like a dull knife, an author jaded and not driven by anything than a deadline:
<blockquote>At once I grimly instigated my miracle flu cure. You go to bed, wrap up warm, and drink a bottle of scotch. Technically it's meant to be half a bottle, but I wanted to make absolutely sure.</blockquote>
Amis even writes himself into the book, running into the I a few times.
<blockquote>'Your dad, he's a writer too, isn't he? Bet that made it easier.'
'Oh, sure. It's just like taking over the family pub.'
'Time,' said the man behind the bar. 'Time. Time.'</blockquote>
...which is something I don't think works very well. But considering Amis' slow, rambling style without loads of sentences directly aimed to thrash the reader, it's an easy get-by. You simply wait for the next good thing.
So what is the next good thing in this book? There's no real plot. There's no magical "oh!" in it. It simply is, without much effect. It owes quite a lot to alcoholism and noir detective stories.
Other times, Amis seems to aim for yob wordplay:
<blockquote>The French, they say, live to eat. The English, on the other hand, eat to die.</blockquote>
And at a few times, it's funny, as when Self meets his dad:
<blockquote>'I want you to meet Vron.'
'Vron?' He's doing it with robots now, I thought. He halted me with a tug of my hair.
'Yeah. Vron,' he said. 'Now you behave.'
Vron sounded bad enough when I said it. My father has trouble pronouncing his r's, owing to some palate fuck-up or gob-gimmick. Vron sounded a good deal worse when he said it.</blockquote>
And the drunkenness goes on, which is the strength of this book, in a way:
<blockquote>Martina sighed. 'You were drunk. You know, it's quite a lot to ask, to spend a whole evening with someone who's drunk.'
... I had always known the truth of this, of course. Drunks know the truth of this. But usually people are considerate enough not to bring it up. The truth is very tactless. That's the trouble with these non-alcoholics — you never know what they're going to say next. Yes, a rum type, the sober: unpredictable, blinkered and selective. But we cope with them as best we can.</blockquote>
His inadvertent/blind chase for Martina, a girl who actually cares for him, seems to pass his blind face by.
All in all: entertaining and worth the read, but I really would have preferred a hefty amount of editing....Continua
I normally struggle with books that are full of sparkling language. They seem to intimidate me and make me slow down.
In this case, though I enjoyed slowing down and savouring the language and the various torments visited on the central character.
The book fairly rattles along once you reach the middle, and I guess one gets a little better at enjoying Amis' virtuosity....Continua
Amis has a brilliant grasp of language. His seemingly endless vocabulary helps to provide the most detailed descriptions imaginable in just a few words.
Money is a humorous view of a world obsessed and run by, and for, monetary gain. John Self, the main character is always in hot pursuit of money, even when he has plenty. Amis' story shows the despicable nature of the rich and their selfish greed, and how it can turn against you, your friends against you, and yourself against you. However, the main character always seems to lead himself straight into bad choices, even when he knows the right path to take. His portrayal of John Self is one of a desperate, lonely man; and you find yourself thinking that money might not be the root of all evil, but the love of money is.
You sympathise with the main character, as he seems to be led into a world he can't control just because of who he is, and then Amis turns the table again and shows Self to be a thoughtless, horrible person again.
The author's inclusion in the novel is interesting, as it is never divulged whether it is the author himself, a fictional version of himself, or a description of possible events that inspired him to write the novel. For my part, I believe it is indeed him, and his inclusion is to draw the reader to the conclusion that two lifestyles and worlds can and do interact, and you're not as far from it as you would think....Continua