Friday, 1 February 2008

Money by Martin Amis

This is a novel written in the early 80’s and is one long monologue about money and what chasing money, having money( and not having money) does to John Self the central character. He is a successful Ad director but at heart a fast talking East end boozing womaniser addicted to fast food and porno. And if you still like him, he beats up women, tends to be a racist, and hates gays… and horror of horror smokes. But he does have a turbulent broth of family relationships to deal with!

This could be an echo of real life as Martin Amis had a troubled relationship with his father Kingsley Amis. Who incidentally was critical of the device of having the author as a character in the story which allows Martin to take some sly digs at the pretensions of writers and writing.

John Self meets a producer in New York and spins him a story based on his own life (drunkard father, two timing mother, time waster son) and is then embroiled in the nightmare of putting the money, script and casting together. He lurches between New York and London loving money and suffering from excesses of drink, food and sex and looses girlfriend, friends and family along the way in a glorious buffoon way.

As he tries to deal with actor’s egos, money men demands and scripts he is also hounded by a stalker . Or is he? We can only understand what john understands and as he is drinking several bottles of whiskies on week long benders he is a little hazy some times on the details. During the story we get to find out what the truth of his rise to the Money as well as family secrets and who cheats who.

As the novel is set up to be a long suicide note you can sense the depths of his pain. So is this a gloomy, slash your wrist Leonard Cohen fun feast? No it’s a very funny and savage satire on money, money and money and oh the film industry. Normally, I dislike first person novels but I strongly recommended this one.

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