Tuesday, July 3, 2012

#55 - 'Money' by Martin Amis

I finished Money  by Martin Amis last week, but haven't had a chance to post anything.  It was my 55th book from Time's list, and part of the only father-son combo on the list, as Martin's father Kingsley penned Lucky Jim.

Without a doubt this was a book I enjoyed, and also one I am finding I enjoy more and more, the more I think about it.  It sort of reminds me of reading The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which when I first finished I was fairly neutral about, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked it.  Soon I was raving about it to strangers on the street, but am unsure to this day what it was I found so intriguing.  The same thing goes for Money; I'm not sure what was so great about it, but it was a very entertaining read.

Following John Self, a wealthy, slightly self-absorbed, alcoholic, porno/advertising director, the book chronicles a few months in his life, split between New York and London, as he goes through the process of producing a Hollywood movie.   He spends his time doing two things really, spending money, and lots of it, and drinking.  Throughout the movie making process he meets different movie stars, each with their own quirks and idiosyncrasies, as well as a sorted cast of characters.

As I said, there isn't anything that really stand out about this book, so I find it difficult to say why I enjoyed it.  But I think the appeal of the book is in its honesty, which I mean in two different ways.  First off, John Self, while narrating, doesn't really hold anything back. He always tells the reader what he is thinking or what he is doing, regardless of how shameful, embarrassing or shocking it may be.  Secondly, John is an honest character in that he seems real.  There isn't anything particularly extraordinary about him, and he hasn't found himself in any extraordinary circumstances either.  He is just a normal person, living his life.  This 'real person' type comes across quite well and allows the reader to feel as if they are actually just sitting in on or observing someone else's life.  And because we always know what's going on in John's head, we really come to know him quite well.  In the end this is what makes him such a sympathetic character.  As a result, I found myself happy when things were going well for John, worried when they weren't.  I love it when a book enables me to become emotionally vested in the story and/or characters.

But perhaps the best part of the book is the plot twist at the end, which reminded me of "The Sting."  Of course I can't really say why, as that might give too much away.  In fact perhaps I've already said too much.  I suppose you'll have to read the book to know what I'm talking about.

Next up is Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather.  It's one of the oldest books on the list, and while I haven't been able to post this past week, I have been able to read, which means I'm almost finished this one.

And a Happy 4th of July to all my American readers out there!

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