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Martin Amis: Money

The hero is called John Self, a clever reference, no doubt not only to Amis himSelf but also to writer Will Self, a writer, like Amis, who is more likely to be remembered for his extramural cavorting than for his literary output. Self is a scumbag. In other words he is a half-American/half-Brit advertising director in New York making his first feature film variously called Good Money and Bad Money (Fielding [Fielding Goodney, the American producer of the film] suggested calling it Good Money in the States and Bad Money in Europe but I couldn’t see the percentage in that.) Self enjoys all the usual things we associate with the film world – sex and drugs and booze and money. Of course, it all goes wrong and Self even has to call in Martin Amis to help rewrite the script. Amis seems to enjoy mocking Self’s self-proclaimed ignorance – whether about Othello or Rimbaud, mocking the American lust for money (Shock! Horror! Stop the presses! Americans like money!) But let’s give poor old Martin some credit. Some parts of the book are funny and he does have the courage to completely trash his hero at the end. But if I need to read about American excesses, I am not sure that petit Amis is the guide I would look for.

Publishing history

First published 1984 by Jonathan Cape