Amis’ ‘Experience’ is a memoir written ten years ago. Having only recently discovered this literary giant (which rock was *I* crushed under all this time?!), it was a treat to get an insight into the man himself– beyond his fiction and works of non-fiction.
Besides the honest accounts of his childhood spread out in England and the Continent, and the seemingly endless phase of school and University– presented non-chronologically by way of letters written home, this memoir is a tribute to the people he loved/loves dearly: his father, mother, step-mother, siblings, cousins, spouses, children, friends and lovers. Most notable is his heart-wrenching affection for the loss of his cousin, Lucy Partington. In addition to the effect of these relationships on his life and work, Amis’ excruciatingly painful “relationship” with his set of natural and then later artificial teeth is an event to itself or a series of events that shape his entire outlook on life from the physical to the spiritual.
As a sidebar, we are introduced to an impressive array of contemporary post-modern writers, all his peers: Bellow, McEwan, Rushdie, Roth and Graves, among others. Note on writing style: Amis is so liberal in the use of footnotes so as to cause the reader to momentarily lose grasp of the main narrative at times! One note of interest re his mother: in the mid-70s, she lived in Ann Arbor with her then third husband, a professor at the University of Michigan, and they ran a fish-and-chips shop called Lucky Jim’s! (Note to self: ask Jim Montgomery, retired IC advisor if he remembers…).
All in all, a must-read if Amis is your man. Prepare to plough through many a section of his antic prose that is meshed undoubtedly with superb literary insights alongside poking fun at self and the universe.
P.S.: Amis, put all your insecurities about your height to bed (if you haven’t already)– your 5’6″ doesn’t make a difference to me! You’re still a giant, and you know it!