America is the subject of this collection of essays by the novelist, Martin Amis. Oscillating between warm affection and perfectly timed quips, Amis brings us close (or close enough to say something amusing) to the worlds of Hugh Hefner, Brian De Palma, Gore Vidal and Gloria Steinem.
One of the appeals of the English novel to Americans is its preoccupation with class distinctions. To an American, class distinctions are quite alien—no matter how real they may be subterraneously. Dickens depicted class with cartoonish humanity. C.S. Lewis depicted class with pious vulgarity. As the political and economic spectrum changed in England, the class system, as it happened everywhere, grew a bit complicated.
Martin Amis’s fiction is almost always a sort of love song to the complicated transition from old to new, good to bad and local to foreign. Success is the least thematically subtle of his catalogue.
Other People is Amis at his most puzzle-like with structure. The book opens with a girl being told that she’s on her own now and to take care. She doesn’t remember anything before that. She names herself Mary in order to say something when people ask her who she is.