Martin Amis’s new novel is clearly the result of the same forces which he says prompted him to write Einstein’s Monsters: Parenthood and a belated reading of Jonathon Schell’s Fate of the Earth. In his essay ‘Thinkability’ he wrote that ‘the theme of nuclear weapons resists frontal assault. For myself I feel it is a background which then insidiously foregrounds itself. This is an apt description of London Fields where at some stage in the near future a nuclear and an ecological crisis are proceeding behind the personal crises of the characters in the main story.
Yet this is no Ben Elton or Raymond Briggs. It is unmistakable Martin Amis: deadly serious and very funny. The jokes are just blacker and further apart. And if it is about love and death instead of success and money it is still about being a writer as well.
An American author, Samson Young, is suffering from ten years of writer’s block. He swaps flats with a more successful English writer whose initials are MA and then discovers a real life plot going on in front of him which he merely has to write down as it happens. This narrative is what we read, as Samson