test

The Rachel Papers (1973)

'Like most people, I feel ambiguous guilt for my inferiors, ambiguous envy for my superiors, and mandatory low-spirits about the system itself.'

In his uproarious first novel, Amis gave us one of the most noxiously believable – and curiously touching – adolescents in contemporary fiction. Precociously intelligent, mercilessly manipulative and highly sexed, Charles devotes the last of his teenage years to bedding girls and evading the half-arsed overtures of his distant parents.

As Charles’s 20th birthday – and the Oxford entrance exams – loom, he meticulously plots – with obsessional notes and observations – the seduction of Rachel, a girl who sorely tests the mettle of his cynicism when he finds himself falling in love with her. Bursting with raw talent, The Rachel Papers is hyper-self-conscious, ingeniously obscene and genuinely funny.   
 

London Fields (1989)

'Happiness writes white: it doesn’t show up on the page.'

Published in 1989, London Fields was written during turbulent times and it shows. The novel is a virtuoso depiction of a wild, immoral society and the questionable characters who inhabit it. Writer, Samson Young, is staring death in the face, and not only his own. Void of ideas and on the verge of terminal decline, Samson’s dash to a decaying, degenerate London has brought him through the doors of the Black Cross pub and into a murder story just waiting to be narrated.

At its centre is the mesmeric, doomed Nicola Six, destined to be murdered on her 35th birthday. Around her: disreputable men, one of whom might yet turn out to be her killer. London Fields is an infuriating and exciting con trick, an elaborate set up by the characters against other characters, and by the author against the reader. Will you fall for it?

What to read next

The Information (1995)

'He awoke at six, as usual. He needed no alarm clock. He was already comprehensively alarmed.'

Fame, envy, lust, violence, intrigues literary and criminal – they’re all here in The Information. Once close friends, writers Gwyn Barry and Richard Tull now find themselves in fierce competition. While Tull has spiralled into a mire of literary obscurity and odd jobs, Barry’s atrocious attempts at novels have brought him untold success.

How does one writer hurt another writer? Tull’s quest for an answer will unleash increasingly violent urges on both writers’ lives. The Information is a darkly comic, vicious portrait of literary London. 

Time's Arrow (1991)

'Probably human cruelty is fixed and eternal. Only styles change.'

Possibly Amis’ finest achievement, Time’s Arrow is ambitious, daring and rigorously imagined. Tod. T. Friendly is living his life backwards. Doctor Friendly has just died, but then feels markedly better, breaks up with his lovers as a prelude to seducing them, and mangles his patients before he sends them home.

From the fresh-cut lawns of his retirement to the hustle of New York, and then the boat back to war-torn Europe, Friendly carries with him a secret. Trapped in his body from grave to cradle, Friendly’s consciousness can only watch as he struggles to make sense of the good doctor’s most ambitious project yet – the final solution. With dark hilarity and devastating pathos, Time’s Arrow is a masterpiece of experimental fiction. 
 

Money (1984)

'Money doesn’t mind if we say it’s evil, it goes from strength to strength. It’s a fiction, an addiction, and a tacit conspiracy.'

The most beloved novel by Amis fans, Money is an absolutely first-rate comic novel. John Self, consumer extraordinaire, splits his time between London and New York, closing movie deals and spending feverishly, all the while grabbing everything he can to sate his massive appetites: alcohol, tobacco, pills, pornography and mountains of junk food. 

John’s excesses haven’t gone unnoted. Menaced by a phone stalker, his high-wire, hoggish lifestyle is about to bring him face-to-face with the secret of his success. Money is ceaselessly inventive and thrillingly savage; a tale of life lived without restraint, of money and the disasters it can precipitate. 

 

Related articles