August 17, 2012
Twenty Minutes with Martin Amis
Ronald K. Fried interviews the writer in Tottenville Review:
Critics have questioned your choice—or your right, really—to write about what used to be called the underclass. But isn’t that what urban novelists have always done—from Balzac through Dickens and Bellow? Is there something censorious about this criticism?
Not only censorious, I think self-righteous is a better word. I think it’s also primitive and illiterate. Writers have always had this freedom. I’ve been doing that for forty years without being challenged once on it. So I just think it was a new touchiness and also the search for self-righteousness.
Is it a species of political correctness—telling the novelist what he can and cannot write about?
I don’t know. It’s weird isn’t it? Because you’d think that what we call political correctness had peaked some time ago, and to get this now, it’s very odd. Particularly since I’ve been doing it for so long—and during that high noon of PC—without it coming up. My slogan is writing is freedom and to hell with everything else.
Lionel Asbo follows The Pregnant Widow, which had autobiographical elements, while the new novel describes characters who are more outside your immediate experience. Does this require a different part of your imagination—a different set of muscles?
Well, The Pregnant Widow started life as an autobiographical novel and I wasted a lot of time trying to do it and it was just completely dead. And it was illuminating in a way. I realized that what gives a novel life is not verisimilitude or truth to life. On the contrary, only very few novelists have been able to write from their own lives, Saul Bellow being the towering example. But most of us can’t do it that way. Bellow found a way of being universal in writing about things quite close to his own life, whereas we have to search for universality by a different route.
Posted by Robin Varghese at 09:30 AM | Permalink