Amis & Amis
Es tan insólita la relación entre un padre y un hijos escritor, ambos con éxitos, que no deja de ser fuente para todo tipo de especulaciones, reflexiones y chismes. Ahora, la complicada relación entre Kingslay Amis y su hijo Martin Amis ha originado un nuevo capítulo literario, esta vez no escrito por Martin, a través de la biografía Amis and Son escrita por Neil Powell. En The Guardian comentan este híbrido literario:
What used to be biography and is now fashionably called life writing has lately been taking all sorts of liberties in an effort to rejuvenate itself. Neil Powell acknowledges that Amis and Son is something of a hybrid - a biography of two people that is more preoccupied with their novels than their lives and one that draws slightly risky parallels with its author's experience. (His mother, he explains, was born in the same year as Kingsley; he is a year older than Martin.) All this, Powell hopes, will help him discover how the process of becoming an author in the Forties and Fifties differed from its parallel in the Sixties and Seventies.
La reseña califica de agudo, ingenioso, divertido, inteligente este ejercicio de analizar las obras de dos importantes escritores a través de su vínculo familiar. Pero queda claro, además, que Powell intenta levantar la figura -antes totémica y ahora casi olvidada- de Kingsley, mientras siembra dudas sobre la calidad literaria de su hijo hoy super famoso.
Powell combines tremendous sympathy for Kingsley with clear-sightedness about his faults, perhaps best summed up by one of his Princeton students' calling him 'a closer-off as well as an opener-up'. About the later rancorousness, Powell is generous, seeing it not as arrogance, contempt, grandeur or self-parody but as 'panic, despair and that childish urge to shock and offend which panic and despair can produce'. He admires the later novels. Eventually, with little more than 100 pages to go, we get to the younger Amis and Powell's briskly dismissive assessment that 'the swagger of Martin the child, as of Martin the writer, is a far wobblier affair than it at first appears'. This must surely be right and it is also reassuring, because Martin's swagger as a writer has been daunting. A decade or so ago, an editor of a men's glossy magazine told me that 80 per cent of the pieces filed to him were written in sub-Martin Amis style. Powell traces the brittle, abrasive quality of Martin's fiction, its rootless demotic, to his bungled education (four schools in as many years) and to parenting that was permissive to a fault. While acknowledging the brilliance of the early novels, Powell is scathing about the later work, hardly deigning to deal with it at all. Of Einstein's Monsters, he says: 'Precisely because it's such a slender book, it demonstrates all the more clearly that although Martin possesses an on/off switch, he has very little in the way of volume control and nothing at all for tone.' Despite Powell's assurance that it is impossible to judge what a living author's career will ultimately amount to, it's hard to believe he hasn't reached his own conclusion. He admits that somewhere around London Fields he started to find Martin's novels unreadable. As a result, he ends his book proper in 1995, the year of Kingsley's death, then adds a coda in which he attempts to answer some of his own questions about the conditions for creative development.