The Pregnant Widow

Jenny Turner writes:

My feelings about Martin Amis are complicated, as is surely only proper. His latest novel is odd and discontinuous and in the end incoherent, with much stopping and starting, and echoing of previous novels, and quoting from Shakespeare, and other things that might be adduced as evidence of artistic stalling or, alternatively, as developments towards a late style – there’s even a bizarre final-act revelation involving a lady draped in ‘the hijab’, which could make sense only in a Winter’s Tale-type romance. Let’s begin, though, with a wave in the direction of some good bits. On what ageing does to the skin of the middle-class male body:

As you pass the half-century, the flesh, the coating on the person, begins to attenuate. And the world is full of blades and spikes. For a year or two your hands are as nicked and scraped as a schoolboy’s knee. Then you learn to protect yourself. This is what you’ll go on doing until, near the end, you are doing nothing else – just protecting yourself. And while you are learning to do that, a doorkey is a doornail, and the flap on the letterbox is a meat-slicer, and the very air is full of spikes and blades.

(LRB 22 April 2010)

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