Money by Martin Amis

money-amisMoney is an ugly and uncomfortable novel like no other I’ve ever read.  By the end of the book, I felt as though the room was crawling with cockroaches.  The main character, John Self, is something of a cockroach himself:  an unpleasant, abusive, fat, belching vulgarity with money.  He is a man who has swallowed pop civilization whole:  he is the result of too much consumption, too much eating, too little education and too much money.  This book is his first-person account of what becomes an aborted attempt to make money – lots and lots of money.  Self is not a very introspective character; nonetheless, even he can see that his world is rife with the casualties of money.    Money is depicted purely a corrupting influence.  There are no “good” characters in this novel.

Amis enjoys play with language, and he’s quite skillful at it.  He invents very funny names for things and people.  I liked his heartburn-inducing fast food concoction, the Blastfurter.

On the whole, although I’m aware that the book is a technical and artistic achievement, I’m not certain that I liked it. Do I really need Martin Amis to provide another illustration of society’s ugliness?  Of course not.  All I have to do is read the news, which will inevitably be chock-full of anecdotes about the filth of living:  corruption, greed, envy and abuse.  The antidote to Money is Life of Pi:  a beautiful book, a book that produces insipirations.

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