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Martin Amis   ::   Experience

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It used to be said that everyone had a novel in them. And I used to believe it, and still do in a way. If you're a novelist you must believe it, because that's part of your job: much of the time you are writing the fiction that other people have in them. Just now, though, in 1999, you would probably be obliged to doubt the basic proposition: what everyone has in them, these days, is not a novel but a memoir.
.. I always experienced a caress of apprehension as I climbed into the car on Sunday night, any Sunday night, and headed back to the motorway and Monday, to the flat or the flatlet, the street, the job, the tramp dread, the outside world.
Only in adolescence do we hear the first rumours of our own extinction, these rumours remaining vague until the irrefutable confirmation of the mid life, when it becomes a full-time job looking the other way.
This is where we really go when we die: into the hearts of those who remember us.
John Updike has written about the young men who come to see him, with their questions and their shaking hands. My hands would shake for Updike, in the summer of that same year. As I loaded the tea tray (me milk, him ... camomile?) in the cafeteria of Massachusetts General Hospital, he noticed this and said smoothly, 'Why don't I carry that?' I learned from the experience. When young men come to see me, with their questions and their shaking hands (only the true fans tremble), I place their drinks on the table before them and avert my gaze while they take their first sip or splash.
When you begin a novel at the age of twenty-one (or so I found), all you've got is your own consciousness; autobiography is forced on you because there isn't anything else.
Poets can't, don't, shouldn't drive. (British poets can't or don't drive. American poets drive, but shouldn't.)
That's what writing is, not communication but a means of communion. And here are the other writers who swirl around you, like friends, patient, intimate, sleeplessly accessible, over centuries. This is the defintion of literature.
books i've read..
2013 [12 read]
2012 [36 read]
2011 [5 read]
2010 [6 read]
2009 [5 read]
2008 [21 read]
2007 [31 read]
2006 [37 read]
2005 [37 read]
2004 [32 read]
2003 [18 read]
2002 [52 read]
2001 [43 read]
2000 [7 read]
1999 [25 read]
1998 [3 read]
unknown year [65 read]

read over the years