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The Information

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Fame, envy, lust, violence, intrigues literary and criminal - they're all here in The Information. How does one writer hurt another writer? This is the question novelist Richard Tull mills over, for his friend Gwyn Barry has become a darling of book buyers, award committees, and TV interviewers, even as Tull himself sinks deeper into the sub-basement of literary failure. The only way out of this predicament, Tull believes, is to plot the demise of Barry.

"With The Information, Amis delivers a portrait of middle-age realignment with more verbal felicity and unbridled reach than [anyone] since Tom Wolfe forged Bonfire of the Vanities."—Houston Chronicle

374 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1995

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About the author

Martin Amis

84 books2,722 followers
Martin Amis was an English novelist, essayist, and short story writer. His works included the novels Money, London Fields and The Information.

The Guardian writes that "all his critics have noted what Kingsley Amis [his father] complained of as a 'terrible compulsive vividness in his style... that constant demonstrating of his command of English'; and it's true that the Amis-ness of Amis will be recognisable in any piece before he reaches his first full stop."

Amis's raw material is what he sees as the absurdity of the postmodern condition with its grotesque caricatures. He has thus sometimes been portrayed as the undisputed master of what the New York Times has called "the new unpleasantness."

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 366 reviews
Profile Image for Glenn Russell.
1,377 reviews12k followers
March 29, 2023

I distinctly recall reading The Information when first published back in 1995 – it was like being dragged through the rough street of London, forced to breathe secondhand tobacco smoke and smell the stale liquor breath of the novel’s main character, forty-year-old book reviewer and greatest novelist in the world wannabe Richard Tull. Also featured are a motley crew of other literary types and British lowlife at its lowest, a police lineup of mates and thugs taking street names such as Scozzy, Crash, Belladonna, 13 and Darko. I was so emotionally drained after the book’s nearly four hundred pages, I had to take a break from fiction for weeks. One doesn’t read this Martin Amis novel so much as one lives it.

After my recent rereading along with listening to the audio book, most assuredly this is literary writing at its finest. Martin Amis renders memorable his blokes, buggers, dudes and dolts through searing description, lively dialogue, atmosphere, mood, setting, dramatic tension coupled with reflections on solar systems and galaxies, quasars and black holes, upward evolution and downward spiraling (especially midlife crisis), all with the mastery of a virtuoso performing Paganini.

Mr. Amis reports how the characters in a William Burroughs novel are “the ironist’s version of nature without nurture, like Swift’s Yahoos – filthy, treacherous, dreamy, vicious and lustful.” Curiously and perhaps even ironically (irony squared?) such a portrayal is a near perfect fit for the men and women in The Information, as if Martin Amis’ London has transformed itself into a late twentieth century Naked Lunch Interzone or one of Burroughs’ Cities of the Red Night.

Additionally, Mr. Amis' biting satirical steak reminds me of yet another finely crafted tale, this one featuring a host of upper and lower class Brits along with one down-on-his-luck Septimus Harding - of course, its that well-known, much loved classic The Warden. Quite the feat Martin pulled off here – the improbable combination of William Burroughs American-style nihilism and Anthony Trollope British satire.

Back on our dastardly main character. From all accounts, Richard Tull could have been an absolutely first rate book reviewer and literary critic, another James Wood or Michiko Kakutani or Eliot Fremont-Smith, but Richard would never ever come close to being satisfied with such low status – book reviewing, the slum district of the literary world. He might as well write dust jacket blurbs for a publisher’s marketing department.

Richard aspired to be nothing less than another James Joyce. To this end he forged on with his latest unreadable tome entitled Untitled, a novel with sixteen unreliable narrators (sixteen!) and an entire chapter formulated as a burlesque of Alfred Tennyson’s The Idylls of the King. Sound like fun reading? It’s anything but fun; in point of fact, reading more than ten pages of Richard’s turgid, overwrought mess would make you physically ill, or even worse, inflict neurological damage. Exactly the fate of those unlucky ones in Amis' book who submitted themselves to the torture of Untitled. By the way, nobody at Bold Agenda, Richard’s New York publisher, actually read Untitled; they simply wanted to balance out their list of dime store pulps with a bulky British novel that, from all appearances, could be deemed serious literature.

In addition to being a failed novelist, Richard recognizes he could very easily be judged a failed man. Richard peers into the bathroom mirror and concludes nobody in the history of the world deserves the face he has: “His hair, scattered over his crown in assorted folds and clumps, looked as though it had just concluded a course of prolonged (and futile) chemotherapy. Then the eyes, each of them perched on its little blood-rimmed beer gut.” Debilitating and unflattering observations, launched both by the narrator and Richard himself, continue throughout the book regarding not only his face but also his tobacco-liquor-drug battered body, his twisted, cracked psyche, his (gulp) sexual impotence.

Meanwhile, his best friend, a Welshman Richard met back in college by the name of Gwyn Barry, writes to be read by the masses. And he succeeds, big time, with his latest, Amelior, a novel about a group of well-intentioned, problem-free young men and women who set off to establish their own rural community. Now, as Richard and many other readers with literary standards recognized, Amelior is nothing more than a watered down version of, say, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist or Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull, as per Richard's reflections upon reading his friend's second novel (Summertown was Gwyn's first):

"If Richard had chortled his way through Summertown, he cackled and yodeled his way through Amelior: its cuteness, its blandness, its naively pompous semicolons, its freedom from humor and incident, its hand-me-down imagery; the almost endearing transparency of its little color schemes, its Tinkertoy symmetries."

But, hey Richard; hey highbrows literary types, Gwyn Barry's Amelior hit the best seller list at number nine. And what was Richard's response when reading the latest news of his closest and stupidest friend's rousing success? He strode out of his den into the parlor where his little twin sons, Marco and Marius, were watching cartoons and gave Marco a good whack on the side of his head. As Christopher Buckley wrote in his New York Times review, probably the one and only instance of child abuse in all of literature that contains a tincture of humor. And soon thereafter, Richard began planing his revenge on Gwyn Barry.

Midway through the novel the narrator himself pops up, bestowing a John Barth-like metafictional spin to this sprawling urban tale, a narrator bearing the name of Martin and possessing one particular physical trait worth emphasizing to readers – he stands not much over five feet. This snippet, including how he was humiliated whenever his older brother arranged a blind date for him with a young lady who turned out to be tall (the bad luck of Cupid's draw), is all we need to comprehend Mr. Amis bears a deep-seated seething resentment over the fact he didn’t shoot up like mum said he would back when he lived at home as a teenager; nope, Martin recognized he would forever remain a pipsqueak, one of the Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz condemned (at least in his own mind) to bursting into song each and every time he entered a room or walked down the street: “I represent the Lolly pop Guild, The Lolly pop Guild, The Lolly pop Guild.”

Thus I have figured out the major reason why I found The Information such an emotionally draining read. It is a true double whammy – both the narrator and the main character spit their vitriol out on every single page. More acrimoniousness toward other people and the world you will not encounter. But, still, the writing is magnificent and gives the reader frequent occasion to shake one’s head and laugh out loud.

“Some junk novels were all about airports. Some junk novels were even called things like Airport. Why, then you might ask, was there no airport called Junk Novel? Junk novels have been around for at least as long as non-junk novels, and airports haven’t been around for very long at all. But they both really took off at the same time. Readers of junk novels and people in airports wanted the same thing: escape, and quick transfer from one junk novel to another junk novel and from one airport to another airport.”
― Martin Amis, The Information
Profile Image for Violet wells.
433 reviews3,221 followers
October 24, 2019
Martin Amis earned himself an advance of half a million quid for this novel. There's probably a strong argument that this unprecedented windfall went to his head and ruined him as a novelist because it was the last decent novel he wrote. I guess the thing about him is that, in his prime, he was a brilliant writer who never managed to quite write a brilliant novel. And this is very much true here. There's lots of fabulous writing. Few writers are so diligent in polishing up every sentence into a shining nugget. But as a novel it seems to me less than the sum of its parts.

Martin Amis made the dumbing down of culture his overriding theme. And he was very prescient back in the day. Except his novels haven't aged terribly well. Perhaps in part because he was writing before the world was changed by the digital age. Amis wants to be modern, wants to be the prophet of what's to come. But the world he creates seem a little old fashioned now, as if everyone is wearing flares.

Amis is always interested in the big picture. His characters are often cartoonish. He doesn't have much to say about personal relationships. His characters tend to interact with the world, if not the universe, rather than other individuals. There's never much human warmth in Amis novels. As usual there are contentious notions. Not least the premise that the well-educated, middle class, middle aged white male has suffered greater diminishment than any other demographic at the hands of tabloid culture, feminism, populism, by what has come to pass as information. As usual with him there are no credible women in this novel. All the women are essentially appendages of their men. They might glaringly be better human beings than his men but they still don't interest Amis much. Instead all the focus is on Richard Tull, a failed writer who is riddled with envy at the literary success of his mediocre best friend. It's often hard to accept Richard is a middle aged man as most of the time he comes across as a hapless embittered adolescent. Perhaps Amis is telling us men don't really grow up anymore? Richard decides to exact revenge on his best friend, which involves entering London's criminal underworld - has to be said Bellow and DeLillo are much better at bringing alive that world with credibility. It's a madcap storyline, verging on being plain daft at times. My favourite section was a comical book tour of America. Amis has always been great at social commentary.
Profile Image for Jessica.
593 reviews3,365 followers
June 17, 2010
I need to force myself to take a break from Martin Amis. I'm pretty sure I've never felt so thoroughly repelled by yet drawn to a man I haven't slept with. This creepily eroticized, one-way relationship with a writer (especially one with such an uncomplicatedly obnoxious public persona) is embarrassing, and I shouldn't feed into it. I also probably shouldn't broadcast it on the Internet, but what can I do? Is this a common response to this particular author? Based on talks with a few people, I think it might be. Amis has some undeniable gifts, but he's deeply flawed; there might be something uniquely addictive about his mix of talent and failure. I find Amis's books wildly entertaining, moronic, poorly structured, imaginative, insightful, glib, pretentious, annoying, hilarious, moving, infuriating, clever, compelling, and inevitably -- profoundly -- very disappointing. And there is something about that disappointment that keeps me coming back for more.

I can't explain why my confusion about Amis translates into a compulsive desire to read more of him, so I'll save that one for therapy. Or, more likely, for my next Amis review....
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 30 books14k followers
September 24, 2014
The great thing about Goodreads is that it lets all us bibliophiles share our common love of books. It's so wonderful to meet someone else who's appreciated the book the same way as you have. You thought you were the only person in the world who'd seen it that way, and now there are two of you. And they even gave you a new angle on that character, and recommended a similar book that you didn't know existed...

The rest of this review is available elsewhere (the location cannot be given for Goodreads policy reasons)

Profile Image for W.D. Clarke.
Author 3 books272 followers
May 19, 2023
4th read Apr-May 2023.
Still Top 3 fave, coulda quoted it at you page by page.
Will revisit for 30th anniversary in 2025...

* * * *
I know that this is one of the most polarizing books from a very polarizing author, but it is one of my touchstones, and I consider it severely underrated. I first read it when it came out in '95, and it has stuck with me ever since. Re-reading it now, it has lost none of its power: on every single page there are at least five sentences that make me catch my breath. If you dislike the trope of hyperbole (Amis' chief weapon in his war on the cliches that our lives have turned into), look elsewhere, but for me this book is easily the equal of (the much more celebrated) Money and London Fields.

I think I will be coming back to scratch and re-scribble this review until this book is finished with me. I can't see that happening anytime soon, and am already plotting another reading.

One of its many pleasures is sharing failed writer Richard Tull's very real and yet laugh-out-loud comical pain. His first book, Aforethought, seems typically tyro in an ambitious sort of way (or vice versa):
If you homogenized all the reviews (still kept, somewhere, in a withered envelope), allowing for many grades of generosity and IQ, then the verdict on Aforethought was as follows: nobody understood it, or even finished it, but, equally, nobody was sure it was shit.

It got him off the dole, and it was the high point (the book ends up being read only by a low-level criminal who finds it in a hospital library and who subsequently enters Richard's life, and not in a good way) of his career:
Richard published his second novel, Dreams Don't Mean Anything, in Britain but not in America. His third novel wasn't published anywhere. Neither was his fourth. Neither was his fifth. In those three brief sentences we adumbrate a Mahabharata of pain. He had plenty of offers for his sixth because, by that time, during a period of cretinous urges and lurches, he had started responding to the kind of advertisements that plainly came out with it and said, WE WILL PUBLISH YOUR BOOK and AUTHORS WANTED (or was it NEEDED?) BY LONDON PUBLISHER. Of course, these publishers, crying out for words on paper like pining dogs under a plangent moon, weren't regular publishers. You paid them, for example. And, perhaps more importantly, no one ever read you.

But at least Richard gets a job out of it: editing (cajoling, flattering and "publishing") the other poor sods who come to the Tantalus Press for the same reason that he did. But what can a poor boy do? Well, how about continue wrestling with his muse, sacrificing his life for his his art. Ahh, his art:

For an hour (it was the new system) he worked on his latest novel, deliberately but provisionally entitled Untitled. Richard Tull wasn't much of a hero. Yet there was something heroic about this early hour of flinching, flickering labor, the pencil sharpener, the Wite-Out, the vines outside the open window sallowing not with autumn but with nicotine. In the drawers of his desk or interleaved by now with the bills and summonses on the lower shelves on his bookcases, and even on the floor of the car (the terrible red Maestro), swilling around among the Ribena cartons and the dead tennis balls, lay other novels, all of them firmly entitled Unpublished. And stacked against him in the future, he knew, were yet further novels, successively entitled Unfinished, Unwritten, Unattempted, and, eventually, Unconcerned.

* * *

The Victorians, who pretty much invented hysteria, got it all wrong, of course. Hysteria has nothing really to do with women (with its own etymology). The patriarchs who coined it were, in Freudian terms, "projecting". Hysteria, Martin Amis informs us, is what happens when it finally occurs to men that—surprise!—they are mortal. That's when they go mad, barmy, bonkers, men, poor deluded creatures every last one of them.

Besides fretting over his non-career as a writer, Richard is burdened by something called, yes, The Information [Platonic capitals mine], which, famously, "comes at night" on a "weep ship":
Cities at night, I feel, contain men who cry in their sleep and then say Nothing. It's nothing. Just sad dreams. Or something like that...Swing low in your weep ship, with your tear scans and sob probes, and you would mark them. Women—and they can be wives, lovers, gaunt muses, fat nurses, obsessions, devourers, exes, nemeses—will wake and turn to these men and ask, with female need-to-know, "What is it?" And the men will say, "Nothing. No it isn't anything really. Just sad dreams."

For Richard, both the manifest and latent content of those sad dreams concern Richard himself (whose waking life has, as with any other man, also always been about Richard) and whose message, essentially, is that Richard's self is dying. Oh, sure, in the abstract we're all dying all the time, and men are generally ace at keeping things abstract during daylight, non-weeping hours, but The Information (which is nothing, which isn't anything at all, a cipher, a zero, a null set) is telling Richard that it is here "to inhume" him, to bury him in the meaningless nothingness that he will one day physically return to. But none of this is as abstract as it sounds, cos Richard is really dying, by which I mean he is just turning—gasp, I know, I know, it is almost too horrible to relate—forty.

FORT-Y, f*cking hell, it's no f*cking joke, and it means that he's past halfway, that he's past it, that life has passed him by and that he should "stop saying hi and start saying bye" to it all, to his kids (who will disown him, he fears), to his wife (who will leave him, he knows), to the the universe, which used to not give a toss about him but which now (as he sees it) actually conspires to f*ck him up:
In the bathroom mirror, of course, he would be reduced to two dimensions, so the bathroom mirror was no place to go if what you wanted was depth. And he didn't want depth. By a certain age, everyone has the face they deserve. Like the eyes are the window to the soul. Good fun to say, good fun even to believe, when you're eighteen, when you're thirty-two.

Looking in the mirror now, on the morning of his fortieth birthday, Richard felt that no one deserved the face he had. No one in the history of the planet. There was nothing on the planet it was that bad to do. What happened? What have you done, man? His hair, scattered over his crown in assorted folds and clumps, looked as though it had just concluded a course of prolonged (and futile) chemotherapy. Then the eyes, each of them perched on its little blood-rimmed beer gut. If the eyes were the window to the soul, then the window was a windscreen, after a transcontinental drive; and his cough sounded like a wiper on the dry glass. These days he smoked and drank largely to solace himself for what drinking and smoking had done to him—but smoking and drinking had done a lot to him, so he drank and smoked a lot. He experimented, furthermore, with pretty well any other drug he could get his hands on. His teeth were all chipped pottery and prewar jet glue. At each given moment, whatever he was doing, at least two of his limbs were immovably numb. Up and down his body there were whispered rumors of pain. In fact, physically, at all times, he felt epiphanically tragic. His doctor had died four years ago ("Unfortunately I am terminally ill."); and that, in Richard's mature opinion, was definitely that. He had a large and lucent lump on the back of his neck. This he treated himself, by the following means: he kept his hair long to keep it hidden. If you went up to Richard Tull and told him he was in Denial, he would deny it. But not hotly.

And what does a man do when life conspires to f*ck him up? He does what any other man would do in such dire circumstances: look for someone else to f*ck up. Look to get even.

[To Be Continued]
Profile Image for Brian.
Author 1 book1,023 followers
August 30, 2014
As a species we are daily bombarded – assaulted, really – by data. An amorphous amalgamation of facts, bon-mots, “things of interest”, learnings: these events are provided in an unending stream of noise, provided to us regardless of whether we’ve invited this data or no. Along this continuum of static our brains run a filter program to winnow nuggets of relevance to our beings and discard the rest. This is The Information. This is what Martin Amis shows us, in lurid satire, that try as we might, we don’t control Information, it controls us.

Amis’ protagonist is Richard Tull, a real piece of work. And by “piece of work”, I mean piece of shit. Not since A Confederacy of Dunces can I remember another character so loathsome. It shows Amis’ enormous talent that he can create so many different ways to convince us that Tull is terrible – even though he starts the book with a wonderful paragraph showing us Tull’s humanity and frailty. Tull is consumed by the green monster, hating that his lifetime – but talentless - literary friend Gwynn Barry is an international superstar, while his own gifts to the written word go unappreciated. Envy and schadenfreude and invidiousness: they arise from poor character, but also from a fear of desertion. He will stop at nothing to ruin Barry. He will harness Information to do his bidding. Reading what happens to this ersatz Machiavelli is a fun ride.

The novel is split into four parts, and while sections of Part 2 and Part 3 began to sag at times for this particular reader, Part 4 presented a fabulous final 50 pages crafted by the deft hand of one who knows how to harness and mold Information to a sharp edge. And yes, so very many wonderful one-liners that were either spot-on descriptions or draw-dropping hilarious imagery. Here’s Amis describing a flaccid Richard Tull unable to consummate the act of love: Fucking her would be like trying to get a raw oyster into a parking meter.

Now I just need to go and listen to the entire album The Queen is Dead by The Smiths to get Morrissey’s We Hate it When our Friends Become Successful out of my brain.
Profile Image for MJ Nicholls.
2,049 reviews4,118 followers
June 7, 2012
Original Review:

This scathing and outrageously eloquent satire on literary envy is clearly Mr. Amis’s magnum opus. Amis probes with excruciating minutiae every nook and cranny of the writer’s psyche, leaving no area of the literary life unflamed with his blowtorch of masterful prose, hilarious wit, and Nabokovian wordplay. Even when Amis “does the proles” his writing is still at its mesmerising peak. This is a book writers everywhere will adore: hopefully blasting a few scribes from their ego-clouds and patterns of lunacy in the process. Amis was paid a whopping £500,000 advance for this novel, which he would spend on repairing his teeth. In my opinion, it was worth every penny. In a canon of perpetual disappointments, flops and follies, this is the one true gem.

Additional Funk:

Did you know Martin originally intended to release a (now suppressed) novella, Green Frog, in 1994, as a taster for this book? Here’s the original cover art, stolen from the Crusty Books website:


Profile Image for Hanneke.
338 reviews351 followers
February 7, 2022
I know it’s rather strange to present my appreciation of The Information like this, but if I could use a scale which explains my feeling as to the level of Martin Amis’ (usually very enjoyable) cynicism (at 1) to downright viciousness (at 10), I would classify the content of the novel in general at around 7 or 8 with lots of peaks to 9 and quite often a downright lash to 10.
There is no doubt in my mind that Martin Amis is one of the rare authors worldwide who is able to write a truly toxic novel. Houellebecq, eat your heart out! I must confess it was hard to read those marvelous sentences in this novel containing all that clever abuse and not give up. However, my admiration for Amis’ great writing, however nasty it was, won it time and again over my feelings of disgust and I continued with great effort to the end at page 494, uttering a huge sign of relief.
Profile Image for Gattalucy.
331 reviews119 followers
December 1, 2020
Quasi quattro stelle, ma non complete.
Volevo leggere un libro di Martin Amis, e, fidandomi dei consigli degli amici di libri ho iniziato da questo. Non volevo correre il rischio di partire da un libro sbagliato, visto gli altalenanti commenti che ritrovavo ovunque.
Dopo l’incipit fulminante ho faticato un po’ a prendere il ritmo: due compagni di camera all’università, amici per la pelle, sognano di diventare scrittori. Entrambi proveranno a scrivere romanzi, ma uno solo dei due, quello più scadente avrà successo, farà soldi, avrà una moglie bellissima e ricchissima, fino a divenire insopportabile nella sua arroganza, l’altro si arrabatterà a sopravvivere nell’ombra del suo vecchio amico, arrivando però a detestarlo fino al punto di pensare di vendicarsi. Due personaggi per i quali, per tutto il libro, non sai per chi fare il tifo, magari vergognandoti anche un po’. Eppure, dopo il primo approccio piuttosto complesso, perché pieno di rimandi letterari che forse non sono stata capace di cogliere appieno, il racconto è decollato, specie con l’arrivo dei nostri eroi negli Stati Uniti, al seguito del viaggio organizzato per sponsorizzare l’ultimo romanzo di successo, con un’ironia raffinata ma pungente verso il mondo dell’editoria e affini. Alcuni brani, come quello de Aeroporti sono divertentissimi, ma talvolta ho faticato a seguire i personaggi secondari delineati, a mio avviso, in modo confuso.
Un libro sul talento e sulla sua mancanza, sul successo malgrado la sua mancanza, e sulla mancanza di successo malgrado la sua presenza.(Un po’ confuso, vero? Come me alla fine di alcune pagine!). Ma i colpi di scena non mancano, e il finale non è da meno.

Alla fine del mio primo approccio con Amis mi sono fatta la mia brava etichetta personale: Amis sa scrivere, eccome! Però a volte si fa prendere la mano dall’arroganza del suo talento ed esagera.
Profile Image for Eric.
570 reviews1,012 followers
June 23, 2015
You really have to go back to Nabokov to find writing this exuberant:

Richard sat in Coach. His seat was non-aisle, non-window and above all non-smoking. It was also non-wide and non-comfortable. Hundreds of yards and hundreds of passengers away, Gywn Barry, practically horizontal on his crimson barge, shod in prestige stockings and celebrity slippers, assenting with a smile to the coaxing refills of Alpine creekwater and saguinary burgundy with which his various hostesses strove to enhance his caviar tartlet, his smoked-salmon pinwheel and asparagus barquette, his prime fillet tournedos served on a timbale of tomato and a tapenade of Castillian olives--Gywn was in First.
Profile Image for piperitapitta.
964 reviews354 followers
July 22, 2023
Non è la mia tazza di tè. O la mia pinta di birra. O il mio bicchiere di whisky.
Riconosco l’intelligenza e la qualità della scrittura, ma no, questo Amis non fa per me (altri non so, ma per un po’ credo che non lo saprò).
Profile Image for Marica.
353 reviews136 followers
December 2, 2017
Vil Coyote, Beep Beep e il giardino Merdadicane
Martin Amis racconta due tipi umani contrapposti, Gwyn il semplice al quale arride fortuna e successo e l’intellettuale Richard che annichila le sue doti in tormenti autoindotti. La verosimiglianza della rappresentazione al vetriolo è aumentata dal fatto che si tratta di scrittori. Sono due ex studenti e compagni di stanza che non si amano ma non sembrano capaci di separarsi: si dedicano entrambi alla scrittura, vanno al pub con le donne, giocano a tennis, a biliardo e a scacchi. All’inizio l’intellettuale ha successo in tutto, poi il semplice diventa celebre e l’altro si macera nell’incredulità e nell’invidia. La caratterizzazione dei due figuri è brillante: lo scrittore di successo è uno gnocco melenso ipocrita e indigeribile, lo scrittore problematico è molto più umano e simpatico: però si comporta come un essere spregevole. Le sue macchinazioni ricordano quelle di Vil Coyote contro lo struzzo Beep Beep: l’amico noioso ha sempre più successo ed è sempre più bello, l’anima nera imbruttisce a vista d’occhio. Altra cosa divertentissima, l’ultimo romanzo scritto dall’intellettuale viene dato in lettura a un’agente letteraria, che si sente male a pagina 4; viene passato all’assistente che rischia di perdere la vista a pagina 7, quindi dato a un collega che prima di finire pagina 11 viene sottoposto a un’operazione: l’autore prostrato si mette le mani nei capelli (perché non ha pensato a dotarne gli eserciti: arma di distruzione di massa). L’unico lato decente di Richard è la vita familiare, in particolare il rapporto coi figli gemelli, coi quali va ai giardini Merdadicane e ai quali dedica attenzioni affettuose: come marito è un po’ una frana, comunque considera con rispetto l’affascinante Gina e cerca in ogni modo di ingraziarsela. Come potrebbe altrimenti (ma questa conclusione richiede comunque intelligenza): Gina è la ragione coi piedi per terra che salva il mondo. Sono anche belle le scene metropolitane nelle quali si vedono il mondo e il sottomondo che si incrociano sfiorandosi pericolosamente, facendo balenare visioni sulfuree. Viene da chiedersi quale opinione abbia Amis dei colleghi scrittori: lui certamente si riconosce nello scrittore problematico, anche se naturalmente ha molto successo. La scrittura di Amis è affascinante: le prime pagine mi hanno conquistata.
Profile Image for Kaung Myat Han.
85 reviews10 followers
September 30, 2010
What a let down! Painful, it's just painful to read. I hugely liked his other book, "The Rachel Papers" but this one "The Information" seems to have no plot, none at all and Martin Amis seemed to be trying to amuse himself by writing such extraordinarily arranged and crafted passages of English vocabulary and words. I must admit he writes beautifully. But there needs to be a plot! Otherwise, it's just plain boring. Books, unlike movies, take up a lot of your time and time is a commodity that people like me can't afford to lose. Terrible books are just a great time-waster! "The Information" is not a terrible book but it seems like forever for a substantial action to take place. It's more than 370 pages and some readers are saying here that the third part is amazing and rewarding etc. etc. Most people would give it up even before they have reached second part or so. There are far better books out there by Martin Amis himself(like The Rachel Papers for instead) and by other authors as well. You can skip this one.
Profile Image for Nelson Zagalo.
Author 10 books333 followers
January 28, 2020
“A informação” de Martin Amis tem por base uma suposta intriga entre dois escritores, mas na verdade nada disso interessa, já que Amis escreve páginas e páginas sobre tudo e sobre nada. Seja por meio de espaçamento, ou de separadores gráficos, ora estamos a ler algo que faz sentido e parece fazer avançar a trama, ora estamos no meio de um qualquer devaneio ou conversa sem sentido. Tudo isto fica mais ou menos engraçado quando lido em inglês, dada a poética impressa por Amis, mas quando traduzido torna-se numa amalgama de informações que nada nos dizem, nem interessam. Por outro lado, o livro sofre imenso com tiques dos anos 1990, nomeadamente com os clichés das estrelas do espetáculo, neste caso da literatura, e seu uso de drogas, sexo e dinheiro e claro as subversões pós-modernas da linearidade. Muito honestamente fazia algum tempo que não chegava ao fim de um livro com um sentimento tão entranhado de tempo perdido, quase me apetecia telefonar ao autor e exigir-lhe o meu tempo de volta!

Dos ingleses contemporâneos, reconhecidos pelo público e crítica, Martin Amis, Ian McEwan e John Banville, são autores que ficam fora das minhas próximas leituras. Quanto ao Julian Barnes, ainda vou ver como correm as próximas leituras.
Profile Image for Mircalla .
649 reviews89 followers
July 28, 2020
La fortuna può anche essere cieca, ma la sfiga ha il tuo indirizzo di casa

Richard è uno sfigato, senza speranza e pure invidioso, di quell'invidia biliosa che gli impedisce di fregarsene, così semplicemente
Gwyn è uno che si è giocato in una sola vita tutta la fortuna cosmica di intere generazioni, senza per questo riuscire a giustificare la sua esistenza sul pianeta
nessuno dei due è particolarmente simpatico, ma Amis riesce a farci appassionare alle loro vicende di competizione e odio secolare
cattivo quanto basta a far desiderare di veder scorrere il sangue, onesto al punto da non lasciar nessun posto all'inarcare di sopracciglio di chi "mai farebbe cose simili"
insomma non ci raccontiamo balle: tutti abbiamo un amico troppo fortunato per essere amabile e troppo cretino per capire la differenza e in ciascuno di noi, date le debite circostanze e un'invereconda mancanza di palle, potrebbe abitare un Richard...e sono davvero cavoli amari quando le due situazioni si accavallano...
Profile Image for Hank1972.
125 reviews39 followers
January 27, 2023
Ian McEwan, Christopher Hitchens, Martin Amis

Il punto debole è la trama. La storia c’è, manca un po’ il collante, lascia un senso di raffazzonato.

Tutto il resto è notevole. A cominciare dalla scrittura.

Quell’incipit da ricordare. "Le città di notte contengono uomini che piangono nel sonno, poi dicono Niente. Non è niente. Solo un sogno triste."

E’ Richard che piange di notte. Attanagliato da una enorme crisi di mezz’età. Frustrazione, insoddisfazione. Non senso. Notti insonni. Nevrosi. Crisi coniugale. Impotenza.

E invidia viscerale per il suo amico d’infanzia Gwyn, lo scrittore che, diversamente da lui, ha sfondato nel mondo delle lettere. Tanto da volerne la rovina, in tutti i sensi.

Uno spaccato del mondo dell’editoria, quasi autobiografico ed in presa diretta. Vedi la rottura con il suo amico (di Amis) Julian Barnes e la di lui moglie, suo agente letterario. Molti gli autori citati (i russi, Borges, DH Lawrence, Kafka) ed alcuni spunti per prossime letture. "Richard nella stanza di una spartana pensioncina; con una mezza bottiglia di whisky e le Lettere scelte, le poesie, Lady Chatterley, D. H. Lawrence romanziere, Donne innamorate. Allora queste cose lo rendevano felice."

Molto spassoso. La tournee negli States per la presentazione dei libri mi ha strappato qualche buona risata.

Richard sopravviverà. Troverà le parole, per la sua Gina, conosciuta in quella libreria di Nottingham, che si scopa i poeti. Le parole per perdonarla. Imparerà a gestire l’informazione, senza lasciarsi sopraffare. E ad avere consapevolezza che "ogni mattina lasciamo qualcosa nel letto, qualcosa di nostro, mentre i nostri corpi fanno i preparativi per riunirsi con il cosmo”
Profile Image for Brent Legault.
711 reviews126 followers
March 5, 2008
I wanted to quote something here, some line of particular wit or genius, but once I started that I wouldn't know where I'd be able to quit. One quote or quip would naturally lead to another and then another and before I could stop myself I'd be plagiarizing (kidnapping, seducing) the entire novel (not that it would fit in this cramped rectangle); every sentence, laid down in different order. Of course, it would still be bloody genius.
Profile Image for Xenja.
624 reviews59 followers
December 1, 2020
Eccone un altro che scrive in un modo tutto suo.
Grande talento, si dice.
Ma il famoso linguaggio elettrico di Amis per me è intollerabile.
Cerebrale, arido, eccessivamente sarcastico, prolisso, autocompiaciuto.
Questo romanzo, poi, mi porta alla seguente riflessione: questi postmoderni, sperimentatori del linguaggio (D.F.Wallace, Eggers, Pynchon, ecc), si rendono conto di essere illeggibili o quantomeno pesantissimi? Si rendono conto di torturare i volenterosi e benintenzionati lettori che hanno acquistato i loro libri? Ma certo che se ne rendono conto! Infatti qui abbiamo un protagonista, Tull, che scrive romanzi geniali ma illeggibili, e perciò non ha successo. C’è qualcosa di autobiografico? Ci si compiace della propria illeggibilità? Direi proprio di sì. Ma Amis ha avuto successo, molto successo. Basterebbe questo a smontare molte di queste sue teorie sulla società contemporanea.
E allora io, volenterosa e benintenzionata lettrice ma fino a un certo punto, soldi per Amis non ne spendo più.
Profile Image for G.R. Reader.
Author 1 book167 followers
January 10, 2014
I must have asked Martin a dozen times what real novel Untitled is inspired by. He gave me that usual composite crap - who does he think he is, Marcel Proust? - but one night I got him drunk on absinthe and he finally spilled the beans.

Well! It's always the least likely candidate, and I promised not to tell, and it's probably actionable too. But every time I see it on someone's shelf, I can't stop myself from grinning like an idiot.
Profile Image for Roberto.
627 reviews1 follower
August 7, 2017
Ho iniziato la lettura di questo libro con grandi aspettative, viste le recensioni entusiastiche. In particolare l’incipit mi ha folgorato:

"Le città di notte contengono uomini che piangono nel sonno, poi dicono Niente. Non è niente. Solo un sogno triste. O qualcosa del genere… Passa rasente la nave del pianto, con i radar dlle lacrime e le sonde dei singhiozzi, e li scoprirai. Le donne – e possono essere amanti, muse macilente, pingui nutrici, ossessioni, divoratrici, ex, nemesi – si svegliano, si girano verso questi uomini e domandano, con femminile bisogno di sapere: – Che cosa c’è? E gli uomini dicono:- Niente. No, non è niente davvero. Solo un sogno triste. Solo un sogno triste. Ma certo. Solo un sogno triste. O qualcosa del genere."

Man mano che la lettura procedeva mi son trovato a leggere sempre più lentamente, a fare sempre più fatica, perché le storie, gli episodi, i personaggi, le situazioni si intrecciavano, si sovrapponevano, sembravano contraddirsi. Molti i riferimenti, molte le citazioni (difficili da comprendere, probabilmente perché più affini al mondo anglosassone), molti i flashback, tantissimi i piani di lettura, molto complessa la scrittura, con periodi lunghi, alcuni personaggi senza relazione con la storia principale.
Ho faticato ma, nonostante tutto, sono arrivato alla fine delle cinquecento pagine che costituiscono il romanzo, ho chiuso il libro e ho pensato: “bene, non ho capito nulla, è inutile per me commentare e valutare il libro".

Poi ho iniziato a ragionarci su, ripensando ai singoli episodi letti. E mi sono accorto di ricordare benissimo tutti i singoli dettagli del libro, come se più che un romanzo fosse una raccolta di racconti, alcuni tristi, altri divertenti, altri addirittura esilaranti. E ho cominciato, lentamente, a rimettere insieme tutti i dettagli di questa lettura che, nonostante la difficoltosa (per me ovviamente) leggibilità, ritengo abbia un notevole valore e che contenga brani oggettivamente geniali.

Di cosa parla il libro (meglio, cosa ho capito io)?

Il romanzo parla della sensazione, del disagio, dell’oppressione, dell’amarezza, del dissenso, della depressione, dello smarrimento che proviamo quando ci accorgiamo che qualcuno senza talento, senza valore, senza capacità, senza idee originali ma solo con tanta faccia tosta ha più successo di noi, specialmente quando pensiamo di valere qualcosa in termini assoluti. Quando quindi veniamo colpiti da una ingiustizia che ci opprime, che ci distrugge lentamente, anche perché nell'ingiustizia è intrinseca anche l'assenza di speranza e di riscatto.

Il libro parla anche di letteratura, che è un modo per tradurre la realtà evitando il contatto diretto con la realtà stessa, per definizione disperata e dolorosa. Letteratura come mezzo che consente ai lettori e agli scrittori di sopravvivere.

Perché gli uomini di notte piangono? Perché gli sforzi fatti per creare valore non sono controbilanciati dalla approvazione degli altri, per la continua delusione delle aspettative, per non essere riusciti a realizzare i propri sogni, per il proprio fallimento, perché si rendono conto, specie dopo i quarant'anni, che ormai la vita volge al termine senza essere riusciti a lasciare un segno tangibile, per non essere riusciti dunque ad "esistere".

Mi sono quindi parzialmente ricreduto sul libro. Si tratta di un libro molto profondo che potrebbe anche essere perfetto se non fosse per la sua scarsa accessibilità che fa sì che la storia si sviluppi lentamente senza mai decollare, nonostante l'umorismo coinvolgente e liberatorio.

Non ho potuto evitare di chiedermi quanto sia funzionale questo genere di scrittura al messaggio contenuto; in altre parole, una scrittura più lineare, più immediata, meno essenziale, non avrebbe migliorato il trasferimento del messaggio di questo romanzo? E' fondamentale per la letteratura contemporanea annegare i messaggi in un caotico contenitore, delegando ai lettori il lavoro di estrazione?

Gli manca pochissimo, per me, per essere un capolavoro...
Profile Image for R..
905 reviews113 followers
June 21, 2013
October 18, 2006

Martin Amis
c/oJonathan Cape Ltd
Random House UK Ltd
20 Vauxhall Bridge Road
London SW1V 2SA

Dear Mr. Amis,

I had the pleasure of reading The Information this past August while living in a motel room in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, just outside of Pittsburgh. Reading, and wandering the parking lot of Star City, an abandoned movie theater, were my sole diversions while waiting for a replacement windshield wiper to arrive at the local auto parts store. Your book was a sanity-saver and, so, I praised it up and down to my girlfriend who was, also, living in the motel room. She was frantic, though, trying to finish up her Library and Information Sciences degree with nothing more than a slow dial-up Internet connection and a stack of past due reference books.


My accolades were at the nth pitch, as I even had a dream cast for the novel. I won't bother you with the roll call, suffice it to say that the running, scrolling credits I had in mind for "the movie of the book" was populated with thirtysomething British comedians, all popular here in America thanks to late night BBC America programming and YouTube.com.

Meanwhile, the hotel room was crammed with our luggage, for the days we had the energy to change our clothing. And there, tucked in one of the pockets of an ancient suitcase, I found some old magazines I had stashed in magpie fashion, picked up on my travels across the United States. As chance would have it one of the magazines, $pread, had an interesting, favorable review of your essay for Stefano De Luigi's Pornoland.

$pread's mission, stated on the cover, is towards "illuminating the sex industry". This particular edition, Volume 1 Issue 2, had interviews with burlesque performer Jo Boobs, a health column (The Healthy Hooker) which detailed the investigation of a new strain of HIV, and a short piece of fiction ("The Last Outcall") that informed one of the dangers of impotent Johns, the necessity of hired muscle for outcalls.

I have enclosed a copy of the aforementioned review for your clippings file and/or delectation.



Profile Image for Tony.
506 reviews39 followers
January 23, 2019
No stars as not completed.

Head most definitely not in the right place for this at the moment. Exceptionally well written but (at times) tedious in the extreme and I found my own thoughts (on other matters) becoming equally tedious. (Possibly the mark of outstanding technique...?)

Will make my return before the year is out....
Profile Image for Chris Gager.
1,977 reviews77 followers
May 16, 2016
I just read a profile of this author in the Smithsonian magazine. He's already on my to read list but I was inspired to pick this one up - the highest Goodreads-rated one at the library. Start tomorrow maybe...

Day one... my first MA or KA read though I may have read some stuff in a magazine or two before. Very funny and pithy. What a contrast to James Patterson's generic cop thriller prose! No skimming here as attention must be paid or else why bother? One question about the obvious skill/cleverness/word-working of the writer. In great writing the prose must be the container of or means to higher attainment in terms of spiritual or emotional outcome. That's where the true art lies. See: Vladimir Nobokov... William Trevor... Alice Munro. Is the author too smart for his own good? We'll see.

- There's a whiff of the plot from the Bette Davis-Miriam Hopkins bitch-fest "Old Acquaintance" here: serious, less successful writer is old friends with a much more successful(but very superficial) one. It's a very good movie by the way...

- I see that the G'reads blurb on this book connects it to favorably to "The Bonfire of the Vanities". WHAT??? In his dreams only could Tom Wolfe write even half as well as Martin Amis. Sheesh...

Day two and the "plot" shuffles along amiably/scathingly. Very entertaining writing but man it's hard to summon ANY sympathy for the combatants. Does the author have any?

- "Flatulence, as it happened, was on Richard's mind. That morning, while shaving, he had geared himself, expecting the usual pungent blare. And all he heard was a terrible little click." Yup...

- And: "They get sick, they get well, they hang around the inkwell."; borrowed from Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues"(without the "theys"). I had to look it up. First I thought it was from "Driving My Life Away"(it DOES fit) or maybe John Lennon.

Day three... not much progress due to busy-ness. The "plot" shambles onward(or sideways as the case may be) but we are still amused, though the Gwyn-hate is wearing me down a bit. Our "hero", whose name I can't remember, continues his drunken, smoky resentment fueled jihad against his friend Gwyn. More is going on of course, including MA's portrayal of modern London beset by addled, aimless intellectual poshes(harmless) and vivid, vicious thugs/yobs/psychos like Scozzy. This brings to mind the more "serious" novel "Saturday" with it's own roster of youthful gangsters. In the recent profile I read I believe MA had things to say about the decay of British culture and society. So he moves to America(his wife's homeland)! DUDE...

Thanksgiving and travelling are done so I can get back to reading. I've noticed a number of connections to other works: Alice Munro's story(title ???) about depravity in rural Ontario featuring a youthful punked out female prostitute... "Children of Men", "A Clockwork Orange"(OF COURSE!), "Death in Summer"(Belladonna/Diva=Pettie).

Moving along now... Some sort of predictable stuff has happened to the hapless Richard. And now the obligatory trip to America. Seems like Brit writers are obsessed with NYC. A great place for art-looking but you can have it otherwise(one man's opinion anyway).

And another day... Richard is wearing me out with his relentless losing battle with ciggies, booze and drugs(when available). At bit reminiscent of Patrick Melrose. Seems like some uber-crisis might be coming upon him. I hope to finish tonight.

And finished... Overall I was very impressed with MA's writing skills and he did indeed carry his emotional message within them. Quibbles? A few: the main characters in some scenes seemed to all around each other despite the fact that London is a VERY big city. Richard seemed to be so much on the edge of non-coping you wonder if the author didn't carry Richard's extremis a bit too far for credibility. 4.50* for the medium and 4.0 for the "message" means 4.25 overall=4*

Profile Image for Robert.
Author 14 books102 followers
April 22, 2017
Martin Amis's novel, The Information, is about the malevolent affection that binds two Oxford chums, one a successful writer who doesn't deserve success and the other an unsuccessful writer who deserves his failure. So Richard (failed) goes to great lengths to mess with Gwyn (successful) and does more to upset his own world than he does Gwyn's.

Most of the novel takes place in London and features one of Amis's favorite devices--the upstairs/downstairs narratives involving thugs Richard hires to give Gwyn a hard time: a really hard time. But there is an American book tour that avails Amis the opportunity to write with wild, often unbelievable, energy in ripping the former British colonies apart...as he rips London literary society apart...as he rips English country house society apart...as he rips the universe apart in quirky cosmic interludes that seem to be telling us that the human comedy is too trivial to be worth the expenditure of so many words...a lot of words...because once Amis gets going, he's not economical, he's fantastical, he's bloody-minded...he's a bit of a literary spendthrift.

Satire,the best way to describe The Information, is a tricky business. Its shelf-life can be rather short. This mid-90s novel still has bite, but there is a cranky joy here that might just become a toothless howl in a decade or two. Overshadowing the antics and rivalries and send-ups is a kind of nostalgia for the days of Dr. Johnson's poets, the era when a well-wrought poem or tale meant more than it did toward the end of the 20th century. This, at least, preoccupies Richard, though Amis's descriptions of his miserable literary productions suggests he has small claim on the verbal worlds he explored when he was a student at Oxford reading Andrew Marvell.

By its own explicit terms, The Information can't be comedy or romance because it doesn't end well for Richard. This a man whose physical and mental deterioration somehow outruns the simplicity of dying, plaguing him with the prospect that he will have to go on suffering Gwyn's success for a good long while.

On Gwyn, a final word: I don't know exactly whom Amis had in mind. Gwyn's success rides on the back of everyone in his novels being diverse yet conflict-free, the happy happy few. We can think, I suspect, of Voltaire's Dr.Pangloss, or more recently, the forgettable (I've forgotten his name) author of I'm Okay, You're Okay. Feel-good writing works for some people. Amis clearly loathes it. But even if satire is not, strictly speaking, comedy, it can be, and is in this case, quite funny.
Profile Image for Matt.
1,035 reviews666 followers
August 12, 2019
Nobody- or at least very few- can write like Amis at his best. He puts such diabolical attention into every phrase and twist of syntax and stays dauntlessly true to his war on cliche. The wit and the invention and the high-grained accuracy of his observations keep me tingling. It actually makes me want to write myself.

In some ways the problem with writing fiction (at least in the times whenever I screw up the courage to gingerly dip my toe in the water, which are precious and few) is precisely what Amis excels at- you cant just have characters ‘walk’ from here to there, or ‘tilt their head’ or ‘say’ this and that. I mean you can, but very sparingly.

The trick (not like I deserve to say much about it, other than from a readerly perspective at least) is to use the verbs and adjectives and synonyms carefully, creatively, and with purpose and conveyance- make those sentences carry some weight of information (pun intended, both here and in the text itself!) subtly to the reader in context so that you don’t have to spell it all out for them.

Then when the prose is truly alive and sometimes it will carry you over the finish line when all else fails. Style forgiveth many a sin, at least in my book. Language is most of what I read for anyway- unlock it for me, slap me around a little, mystify me, make me feel it. Without language, where is the momentum, where is the characterization, where is the interest, where is the information?

Even though the subject matter in his books is often rather clammy (ugly people doing questionable things amid desperate, ominous environments) and the plot especially towards the end of this one got a bit tangled I found that I really enjoyed reading this.

When he’s on, he’s great, and when he falters the books collapse. This is one of his good ones.
Profile Image for Stacey.
272 reviews
March 24, 2008
This is one of Mark's favourite books, so i thought i would give it a try. Almost three months of trying to get into it (it has a very stylized prose and be prepared to have dictionary.com at the ready; Amis's use of an extensive vocabulary is fantastic) i finally got through it in about 3 days.

It's mean, the characters aren't just flawed- they're downright unlikeable-, and it's pretty damn funny. But be careful, because if you don't have a VERY dark sense of humor (or you can't appreciate a dark sense of humor) this is going to come across as the saddest book in existence.

For Richard Tull (protagonist), apply Murphy's Law and you get his life. A difficult read, but on the whole, enjoyable. The best part is to find someone who has read it & enjoyed it and go over all of the plot turns and laugh at the unfortunate and humiliating incidents.
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