Monday, September 03, 2012

The Pregnant Widow

Martin Amis has several children, and writes the kind of novels that make a reader beg the question:
"My God, Marty -- have your daughters read this one?" Because they are ribald things.
[The novels, I mean].
Crasser than crass.
Sex, sex, sex -- characters endlessly engaged in one manner of progfligatry [<-- should be a word] or another. Everyone with their wild sides exposed.

Brave-living anti-hero protagonists stretching the boundaries ["What boundaries?" Amis might ask…] of normalcy.
Anyhoo -- I just finished Amis's [2010] novel The Pregnant Widow, and he was true to form. I've read three previous Amis novels, and this one I liked the best.
So, to those critics who claim that Amis is losing some of his verve and excellence as time's arrow [not to mention the cigarette smoke] shoots him full of wrinkles, I disagree. This one was a real whippersnapper.

The year is 1970, and a group of 20-somethings are vacationing in a castle in Italy.
[I know -- we all did this, right?] Never mind -- it works, here.
Keith Nearing, housed in a room with his somewhat lacklustre girlfriend Lily, soon finds himself profoundly enamoured with a rapturous blonde vixen, appropriately named Scheherazade. She is separated from him only by an adjoining communal bathroom, and the topless sessions at the pool become a bit much for him.
As one astute reviewer put it, "Keith wants to have his Kate and Edith, too!"
Keep in mind that, given the lull between the last two World Wars [21 years]… this burgeoning generation were feeling that any time now they, too, were about due to be sent off to die in Another One. The time was ripe -- 25 years since the last great armistice. Sex now, or death tomorrow!
The Sexual Revolution© was in high gear.

The neat thing about Martin Amis is that he is not only racy and steamy and buttocks amok! He does write a thinking-person's novel!
Throughout the thing, he outlines and illustrates the four major tenets of the Sexual Revolution:
1) There will be sex before marriage.
2) Women, also, have carnal appetites.
3) Surface will start tending to supersede essence.
4) A dissociation of sensibility.

Having said all of the above, which is not much at all, I must add that The Pregnant Widow does not sensationalize the sex act.
Scenes in which sex takes place are actually downplayed, and the effects, emphasized.
For details about how-people-are-doing-sex, a reader desiring such things will have to stick with Fifty Shades of Grey, and similar ilk.

As I said, this is, as are all of Amis's books, more of an intellectually stimulating piece.
Rife with allusions to poetry and literature, issues far deeper than meet the surface -- and yet with boobs and man-parts all over the place, making their cameo appearances in all their jiggly craziness.
This is his oeuvre! His niche!
Starting with the flush and ripeness of youth, but finishing up with the fifty shades of grey -- as in, where all of that takes us.

Just two nights ago -- I saw Amis's brand new novel on the shelf in a bookstore.
It's called Lionel Asbo: State of England. 
I opened to the dedication page and saw there the words, "To Christopher Hitchens."
At the time, that alone almost compelled me to buy it.
But now, having finished this, his previous work -- I have all the more reason to take his new one up to the cashier.

The guy's on an upswing!

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