Saturday 14 February 2009
The opposite of Valentine's Day
I think it's pleasingly ironic that I'm blogging about Martin Amis's The Rachel Papers on Valentine's Day; really, nothing could be less sentimental and mushy than Amis's novel about precocious young sex fiend Charlie Highway and his pursuit of the mysterious Rachel.
Sentimentality is either entirely rejected or mercilessly mocked in this novel as Charlie minutely and meticulously dissects first his desire for Rachel and then their relationship. If you're looking for the novelistic prelude to a romantic comedy (the film version stars Ione Skye, that '80s ingenue who did so much for Say Anything, and therefore might make one think this is that kind of film and therefore book), do not read The Rachel Papers, for you will be disappointed and perhaps offended.
If, however, you're looking for a book that's relentlessly satirical (that is, funny and mean, two of my favourite things, especially when combined) about sex, love, intellectual pursuits, the human body, deep emotions - anything really important to most 19-year-olds - then you'll love this novel.
I loved The Rachel Papers. Besides being funny and mean, the writing was really damned good. I laughed a lot. I cringed. I was annoyed, but in a pleasurable way. Often, I stopped to notice the writing, which is something I don't do enough. There will be more Martin Amis in my reading future, count on it.