He’s no Orwell. Oh well, still a bloody good Martin Amis + John Le Carre, the dirty bits.


Accompanying a piece in the Financial Times, Martin Amis is caricatured as a jockey, although barely tall enough, next to Orwell, HG Wells and a pantomime horse. A new low in Mart bashing? Certainly closer to the ground than ever.

New Statesman editor Jason Cowley evaluates the runners and riders in the New George Orwell Cup and is perhaps a little easy on Christopher Hitchens, the man who welcomed Mugabe and was taken in by Communism for far longer than your average student drunk. He may have been the greatest (talk) show on earth but then Amis didn’t give it up for Trotsky, or take so much delight in fruitless bickering.

Agree that John Le Carre is underrated as a left wing voice, at least by the literati. And some mainstream writers were recently excoriating his latest for supposed style crimes, on Facebook. It’s apparently outrageous, also, that some of his characters may be attracted to others – terribly sexist. Francis Wheen, who once excoriated the Daily Mail in a debate, before working for the, er, Daily Mail,
had the offending passages to hand with page numbers. Maybe his copies fall open at the dirty bits. Should narrators or fictional characters be working towards some ideal future in which no one objectifies anyone else, ever? That’s not how people are. Maybe we will eventually play nicely during sexual delirium, perhaps when writers stop being infuriated by more successful rivals. When we get the final triumph of Communism. Or when this new Orwell shows up.

“Manic Depression. The Mike Tyson of mental diseases.” Martin Amis Night Train


One thought on “He’s no Orwell. Oh well, still a bloody good Martin Amis + John Le Carre, the dirty bits.

  1. In the unlikely event of anyone caring about the Le Carre nitpickers there is an exceprt here. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/apr/12/delicate-truth-john-le-carre

    “On a sunny Sunday early in that same spring, a 31-year-old British foreign servant earmarked for great things sat alone at the pavement table of a humble Italian cafe in London’s Soho, steeling himself to perform an act of espionage so outrageous that, if detected, it would cost him his career and his freedom: namely, recovering a tape recording, illicitly made by himself, from the Private Office of a Minister of the Crown whom it was his duty to serve and advise to the best of his considerable ability.”

    First sentence ‘too long,’ ‘Too much back story, too soon’? Surely it’s a good idea to let people know what’s happening before browsers put the book down and pick up something else? But you’d better take a deep breath before reading it aloud. I’ve seen shorter, snappier sentences. This one’s about as elegant as Ricky Tomlinson pulling a beer stained t shirt over his grubby vest. Although It didn’t bother me, till the aesthetes started complaining. Maybe I’m a slob, too. (‘Maybe?’!)

    Fortunately it’s not on a blog. No teenager can snip it and write TL:dr at the end. I’m happy we’re in the middle of something right away. It almost makes up for the protagonist being called Toby.

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