The Information (Magill's Literary Annual 1991-2005)
With The Information, Martin Amis again shows why he is one of England’s most highly regarded novelists. This tale of literary jealousy and revenge is a wicked satire of contemporary insecurities and inadequacies. The novel was published with an unusual degree of fanfare, partly because Amis’ proponents hoped it would be the masterpiece of which he is clearly capable and partly because of the extraliterary baggage it carried. While The Information is a brilliantly written examination of success and failure, it is not all it might have been, not as compelling a vision of civilization collapsing as the twentieth century limps to a close as Amis’ London Fields (1990).
The Information received considerable publicity in both Great Britain and America. Amis instructed his agent, Pat Kavanagh, to ask his British publisher, Jonathan Cape, for $780,000 for the rights to the novel; she was reluctant, because it was unlikely to produce the sales to justify such a fee. Amis then replaced her with Andrew Wylie, an American attacked in the English press as “the Jackal.” Many of Amis’ fellow writers, notably novelist A. S. Byatt, the acclaimed author of Possession (1990), joined the fray to ridicule what they saw as greed. Much attention was also given to Amis’ needing the money because of such extravagances as spending $31,000 on cosmetic dental work. Amis’ severing his relations with Kavanagh also ended his...
(The entire section is 1935 words.)
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