D J Taylor

The History of Mart

The War Against Cliché: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000

By

Jonathan Cape 490pp £20 order from our bookshop

One reads collections of reprinted book reviews by distinguished novelists for several reasons: from simple curiosity (to see what they think of old friends and recent acquaintances), in search of low–level quirks and self–betrayals (the interest in big–game hunting or bronzed musclemen relentlessly pursued across the decades), but above all in the hope, or rather the confident expectation, that what emerges will tell you something– and something pretty revealing– about the creative impulse lurking all the while in the background. It happens with Updike, it happens with Ballard (to name a couple of writers whom publishing economics allow to get away with this kind of vanity parade), and it certainly happens with Martin Amis.

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