Martin Amis, fully Martin Louis Amis

Amis, fully Martin Louis Amis

British Novelist

Author Quotes

The arms race is a race between nuclear weapons and ourselves.

The middle class is doing fine in fiction. But it's not what gets me going. I love the working class, and everyone from it I've met, and think they're incredibly witty, inventive - there's a lot of poetry there.

The true manipulator never has a reputation for manipulating.

They did more than take our youth away. They also took away the men we were going to be.

Twenty-two poems covered the period from Lev?s first serious efforts to his arrest in 1948 at the age of nineteen. Very Mandelstamian, I adjudged: well-made, and studiously conversational, and coming close, here and there, to the images that really hurt and connect.

Weapons are like money; no one knows the meaning of enough.

When communism failed, it wasn't a good idea that had gone wrong, it was a bad idea that had been sustained with incredible determination in the face of all the commonsense arguments, and at the cost of 20 million lives at least, in Russia, to build the socialist Utopia.

When you?ve lost all your play, guess what love becomes. Work. Work that gets harder every hour.

Yeah,' I said and started smoking another cigarette. Unless I inform you otherwise, I'm always smoking another cigarette.

You use a different part of your heart with girls.

The bringers of Tuesday's terror were morally "barbaric", inexpiably so, but they brought a demented sophistication to their work. They took these great American artefacts and pestled them together. Nor is it at all helpful to describe the attacks as "cowardly". Terror always has its roots in hysteria and psychotic insecurity; still, we should know our enemy. The firefighters were not afraid to die for an idea. But the suicide killers belong in a different psychic category, and their battle effectiveness has, on our side, no equivalent. Clearly, they have contempt for life. Equally clearly, they have contempt for death.

The militant Utopian, the perfectibilizer, from the outset, is in a malevolent rage at the obvious fact of human imperfectibility.

The truth is that pornography is just a sad affair all around. It is there because men in their hundreds of millions want it to be there. Killing pornography is like killing the messenger. The extent to which Larkin was "dependent" on pornography should be a measure our pity, or even our sympathy. But Motion hears the beep of his political pager, and he stands to attention.

They say that it is one of the most terrifying manifestations in nature: a bull elephant in a state of must. Twin streams of vile-smelling liquid flow from the ducts of the temples and into the corners of the jaws. At these times the great beast will gore giraffes and hippos, will break the backs of cringing rhinoceri. This was male-elephantine heat. Must: it derived via Urdu from the Persian mast or maest?intoxicated. But I had settled for the modal verb. I must, I must, I just must.

Under National Socialism you looked in the mirror and saw your soul. You found yourself out. This applied, par excellence and a fortiori, (by many magnitudes), to the victims, or to those who lived for more than an hour and had time to confront their own reflections. And yet it also applied to everyone else, the malefactors, the collaborators, the witnesses, the conspirators, the outright martyrs (Red orchestra, White Rose, the men and women of July 20), and even the minor obstructors, like me, and like Hannah Doll. We all discovered, or helplessly revealed, who we were. Who somebody really was. That was the Zone of interest.

Weirdly, the world suddenly feels bipolar. All over again the west confronts an irrationalist, agonistic, theocratic/ideocratic system which is essentially and unappeasably opposed to its existence. The old enemy was a superpower; the new enemy isn't even a state. In the end, the USSR was broken by its own contradictions and abnormalities, forced to realise, in Martin Malia's words, that "there is no such thing as socialism, and the Soviet Union built it". Then, too, socialism was a modernist, indeed a futurist, experiment, whereas militant fundamentalism is convulsed in a late-medieval phase of its evolution. We would have to sit through a renaissance and a reformation, and then await an enlightenment. And we're not going to do that.

When I go back to the core of my childhood, my cousin Lucy seems always to be in the peripheral vision of my memories. She is off to one side, always off to one side, with a book, with a scheme or a project or an enterprise.

When you're in love and trying to make someone love you back, you can hear the texture of your own footfalls, the whistling passage of your breath. Invisible eyes monitor you constantly: even at night something presides over the shape of your sleep. Every thought carries a tick or a cross.

Yes. Those babes in arms will grow up and want revenge on the Nazis in about 1963. I suppose the rationale for the women under forty-five is that they might be pregnant. And the rationale for the older women is while we're at it.

You want readers; you love the reader. A great part of writing is hoping to make things as nice as possible for the reader -- be a good host, have them put their feet up by the fire, pull up a chair, get out a good wine. The writer who loves the reader always feels that; Nabokov would always give you his best chair. But there have been one or two writers who didn't give a shit about the reader, like Joyce -- partly because he had patronage, he didn't need the reader to earn a living. And Henry James, who went off the reader in a huge way, which is why those last few novels became impenetrable. If you look at early James, he's almost middlebrow, then you get The Ambassadors, this incredibly convoluted thing. Joyce and James became bad hosts: If you wandered into their house you wouldn't be welcomed. You'd stagger around while they were in the kitchen making some vile concoction which might amuse you, but it would taste disgusting and eccentric.

Suffering doesn?t concern itself with the scale of other sufferings.

The champions of militant Islam are, of course, misogynists, woman-haters; they are also misologists -- haters of reason. Their armed doctrine is little more than a chaotic penal code underscored by impotent dreams of genocide. And, like all religions, it is a massive agglutination of stock response, of cliches, of inherited and unexamined formulations.

The mock-heroic, in whatever guise. One example, from Alexander Theroux: 'It was high tea: the perfervid ritual in England which daily sweetens the ambiance of the discriminately invited and that nothing short of barratry, a provoked shaft of lightning, the King's enemies, or an act of God could ever hope to bring to an end.' This elaborate banality might serve as a lesson to all fifth-formers. The sentence is a wreck: ugly, untrue and illiterate; even in the interests of pseudo-elegant variation, you cannot start a clause with a which and then switch to a that.

The universe is a million billion light-years wide, and every inch of it would kill you if you went there. This is the position of the universe with regards to human life.

They're always looking forward to going places they're just coming back from, or regretting doing things they haven't yet done. They say hello when they mean goodbye.

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Amis, fully Martin Louis Amis
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British Novelist