May 26, 2012
Martin Amis: over-60 and under-appreciated
From The Telegraph:
In the days when he was the hip young gunslinger of British fiction, the Martin Amis interview tended to follow a certain form. This would involve tyro journalists – Amis wannabes for the most part – joining their subject at the snooker table or on the tennis court, where the author would go through his famously competitive paces, presenting the journalist with the tricky dilemma of whether to throw the game and curry his favour, or beat him and risk his resentment. But at 62, time and Amis’s recent relocation to New York have put something of a damper on his sporting enthusiasms. The pub and snooker evenings were long ago sacrificed to family life. And he no longer plays tennis. 'It just got so tragic,’ he says with a sigh. 'I hated it so much – because I wasn’t winning. Isabel says, “Play 80-year-olds, you’ll win against them.” But that’s no good. I can still run – not as fast. My game was built on mobility; didn’t have any big shots or anything. A defensive lob was my big shot. But it’s more to do with reflexes. You shape to do it and you’re not there – you’re crowding it, and the ball’s out of reach, and it fills you with a weird sort of self-disgust. Solemn exasperation and self-disgust.’ Nowadays, he can’t even watch the Premier League because he is unable to operate the television. 'Pathetic!’ He gives a rueful shrug. 'The technology has moved so far beyond my competence.’
Amis relocated to New York some 18 months ago, and now lives in the Cobble Hill district of Brooklyn, in a handsome four-storey brownstone, with his wife, the writer Isabel Fonseca, and their two teenage daughters, Fernanda and Clio. It is tempting to read something into the move. One of the recurring themes of Amis’s pronouncements over the past few years has been a palpable disenchantment with England and English life: the 'skanky town’ malice of London’s literary world; his bald declaration to a French newspaper that he would 'prefer not to be English’; the sense that his homeland is a busted flush; the fact that his new book, Lionel Asbo, is a satire on the shallowness and vulgarity of celebrity-obsessed Britain. All of this may or may not be true, but it is not the reason he has decamped to America. Isabel, he says, is a New Yorker, and wanted to be closer to her mother and stepfather as they grew older.
Posted by Azra Raza at 08:07 AM | Permalink