Jon Hotten notes the medialand rumblings that foretell the release of a new Martin Amis novel (The Pregnant Widow - great title) and observes that Mart is “a member of the last generation capable of talking in fully-formed sentences. There are no, 'I was like, you know...'s” .
This is true, though I suspect that Amis manages this largely by leaving the spaces between clauses - which other interviewees would fill with “you know”s or “ummm”s or other tics- as silent pauses. This is a good knack to have since it gives the impression of gravitas, but then talking in fully formed sentences is very, very difficult and even pausing requires self-discipline and nerve.
I’ve never quite worked out how smart Mart is. Certainly he views himself as a Thinker but he often seems to be carried well out of his intellectual depth on the sails of his own verbosity, eg. recently on Muslims.
(While writing this I’ve just remembered that in the first incarnation of the blog I attempted a homage to the Martin Amis style with this piece on American teeth. Reading back, it’s not quite as bad as I thought it might be but three years ago does seem like another lifetime, proving once again that blogtime flies even faster than real time).
But I greatly admire Amis’s gift for getting to the nub of a thing, for expressing a viewpoint, often controversial, in a single, memorable, highly convincing phrase. There was a striking example in his Sunday Times interview this week, especially given the release of another high-profile book in which Natasha Walter u-turns in despair at the fate of feminism.
Note the Amis Pause before the (emboldened) profundity:
“I know women now full of regret at just not worrying about [having babies] until it really was too late,” he says. “Three or four friends, who would have been very good mothers, but…” He pauses. “The sex revolution wasn’t a bad thing. In fact it was a cornucopia of opportunity. But it is a massive project to rethink an entire gender, and behaving like men was the only model women had. It was never in their interests to be like that. The sex wasn’t in their nature.”