Friday, November 18, 2011

London Fields-(36th book of 1001)

The book London Fields by Martin Amis is AMAZING. Not something I would traditionally give 5 stars to but I was completely engaged in it and read it quickly dying to know how it would all turn out. The story is a mystery, written by the narrator who is narrating "real life". A murder is going to happen and he is faithfully taking down the details of it as it occurs. The odd thing about this book is the "author" is dying, as is the world, and the "murderee". The book is filled with a looming presence of a ticking clock...the world is a bomb that is about to explode!

This book is cheeky, oh so cheeky. It makes you giggle as you pick up on the completely inane subtleties that this book throws at you. For instance, the "author" of the novel is doing an apartment swap with a highly success author, Mark Asprey. The delighful narrator has never made it big and as he is laying dying in Mark Asprey's apartment he making a last ditch effort at a novel. He reads a novel of Mark Asprey's left lying about for him to pick is under a pseudonym with first and last name staring with M and A. The author of this book? Marin Amis (me thinks the author is implying he is the successful author who published this novel on behalf of his dead friend!) Most of the characters have names that are very thinly veiled puns including Guy Clinch (who is the fall guy and the "clincher" that makes the murder happen), Dink Heckler who is a preppy tennis player that hangs around Guy Clinch's house likely having a affair and making a mockery of Guy, the president's wife is called Faith and her life is tied in somehow with the fate of the earth, Chick Purchase is the loathed enemy of Keith Talent (the dart afficionado)who is the "murderer". Why is he the enemy? Because they both have a penchant for violence towards women and one of them outdid the other.

The book also has several really silly pages full of alliteration including:

"In the pimpboot of his pimpcar are more pimpclothes, swathed in pimppolythene"

"Burglars were being burgled, by fellow burglars" (Did I mention the world burgle makes me giggle uncontrollable?)

On horror day:
"he thought of horrordog and horrorcat as after, a sickening drop he shuddered his way tormentedly upwards, wedged in the pungent horrorlift" (I suppose this one isn't really alliteration so much as a repetition of the horror phrase)

Despite its silliness you finish the book feeling like you learned something and were not just entertained. The book is a book about story, and the things we tell ourselves about what we deserve, what will happen to us and what life is all about. The author was the narrator of this story putting a certain spin on the actions he was seeing before him, he observes,

" The lady has an unreliable narrator. Many people in the streets have unreliable narrators"

There were several questions and comments posed to God as well:

"God exposes us, take away our padding, and our room"

"who stitched us up with all these design flaws?"

The book is set in London, and having been there this summer that alone endears the book to my heart. The novel centers around Portobello Road where I made the trek one crazy, Saturday, market day. I got to use my travel guide map as I followed the characters walking up and down streets.

Here are some cute London references:

"If London's a pub and you want the whole story, then where do you go? YOu go to a London pub"

In the Black Cross pub "time was a tube train with the driver slumped heavy over the lever, flashing through station after station"

Anyways, that's all I'll say about the book. I can't quite figure out what it is that I got from the book, or what the author was trying to say, but there's a lot there and I don't feel stupider for having read it. Although comically silly, and a murder mystery there is definitely a point behind this novel.I would recommend it to anyone as there is bound to be something of interest in it for all.

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