The Information

by Martin Amis

Hardcover, 1995




New York : Harmony Books, c1995.


When Richard Tull, frustrated, failed novelist invited to tour America with this oldest friend, internationally bestselling novelist Gwyn Barry, to record the event, his envy and humiliation are complete.  He sets out to gather the information that will destroy his best friend and pull his career down around his ears.  Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the, both men are being watched by a psychopathic ex-con and a young thug who have staked out their homes--watching their wives, watching Richard's small boys, the twins--waiting until the time is right...

Media reviews

The London Review of Books
Amis once proposed ‘never being satisfied’ as Philip Roth’s great theme, but it is the boundless nature of need that he, too, endlessly celebrates and satirises. And if Amis is the poet of profligacy, the expert on excess, it is because he is himself full of what he might call male
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need-to-tell, what John Updike has diagnosed as an urge ‘to cover the world in fiction’. Money may have been the definitive portrait of Eighties materialism, but Amis has a sly suspicion that we haven’t yet tired of reading about the things we cannot get too much of – like fame and money, sex and information.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member rachelellen
This book was... interesting. Very masculine in its tone and subject. Interestingly written, with a good amount of skill and an original (if occasionally... pompous? is that the right word?) style; the dialogue especially was extremely well-rendered, in my opinion. Parts of the story were riveting,
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in a train-wreck sort of way, and parts were very humorous. It was a bit confusing, though, to sway back and forth from dark, bleak comedy to what was I think an attempt at literary depth (see above re: pompous). The best thing about this novel is the way it exposes and depicts the ego -- of men, of writers in particular, and of people in general. That made it worth reading, and worth continuing, even when I was a bit tired of the book overall.
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LibraryThing member joes
There is no doubt that Amis is a literary genius. A fact however that he never tires of showing off about. You couldn't fault the intellectual range he displays however sometimes less is more and the actual story can drag whilst Amis is off performing his amazing feats of literary dexterity.
LibraryThing member lucasmurtinho
This book takes a while to take off - some 100 pages of its beggining and middle section could easily have been cut out - but the ending makes it all worthwhile. Amis's cruelty is as appaling as it is magnificent. Stick to it and enjoy it.
LibraryThing member CraigHodges
"Fuck Richard wake up mate, you're brilliant. Why dick around with all the inhibition. Get out there and crash and burn."

Well, that's at least what I said to myself 50 pages in.

Amis thank you.
LibraryThing member pwoodford
The least readable of all Martin Amis novels.
LibraryThing member mjharris
Amis is bitter so I don't have to be...just grateful that he can get all the angst and anger of my chest, and let me laugh.
LibraryThing member villemel
Get ready for a lexical avalanche. Not only are we stretched to the limits of the universe but also to the depths of the mind. Fortunately there is enough plot to string these far flung antipodes together. Just. Unfortunately, the narrator and his main character show far too much solidarity in
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teaming up against the defenceless antagonist.

Otherwise this entertaining novel appears to have been dragged out of the ink well on a sitting by sitting basis and on the premise of never deleting anything. Half finished sentences are sculpted into patterns. Unfinished thoughts are retrospectively branded as having belonged to the principal character. Entire paragraphs are composed of strings of nouns. Indeed the author's greatest skill appears to be creating something from nothing.

Finally, the nothings outweigh the somethings. The entertainment outweighs the aesthetic. Too much detail is lost buried in obscure passages, and the denouement sags like a untied sack of potatoes.

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LibraryThing member jwhenderson
By the time I read The Information, the novel was notable not so much for its critical success, but for the scandals surrounding its publication, I had already enjoyed London Fields. The Information, while also set in London had a more contemporaneous plot and with its focus on the literati held my
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attention in spite of Amis's sometimes anarchic prose style. The enormous advance (an alleged £500,000) demanded and subsequently obtained by Amis for the novel attracted what the author described as "an Eisteddfod of hostility" from writers and critics after he abandoned his long-serving agent, the late Pat Kavanagh, in order to be represented by the Harvard-educated Andrew "The Jackal" Wylie. The split was by no means amicable; it created a rift between Amis and his long-time friend, Julian Barnes, who was married to Kavanagh. According to Amis's autobiography Experience (2000), he and Barnes had not resolved their differences.
The Information itself deals with the relationship between a pair of British writers of fiction. One, a spectacularly successful purveyor of "airport novels," is envied by his friend, an equally unsuccessful writer of philosophical and generally abstruse prose. The novel is written in the author's classic style: characters appearing as stereotyped caricatures, grotesque elaborations on the wickedness of middle age, and a general air of post-apocalyptic malaise.
Amis's novels are somewhat an acquired taste and his claim to be influenced by Jane Austen seems to have dissipated by the appearance of this and later novels. On the other hand perhaps not, with a fascination for words and contemporary relationships Amis's style may mirror our current world in a way not that different from Austen in her world.
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LibraryThing member rosinalippi
writers behaving badly
LibraryThing member TheAmpersand
A fine novel from the "cruel, clever young man" school of literature. Amis follows the antagonistic relationship between two writers, one shallow and successful, the other abstruse and an unknown, and describes what happens when the latter decides to exact revenge on the former. "The Information"
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is genuinely funny; Amis can make you laugh out loud without resorting to standup-style shtick, and his prose is admirably precise and often very effective. Many readers will also enjoy the well-aimed broadsides he takes at Gwynn, the mercenary author who has found success by marketing colorless New Age tripe, and Richard, the avenger, also gives Amis some space to reflect on the inevitable disappointment that comes with entering middle age.

Despite all this, "The Information" doesn't strike me as a particularly deep or meaningful novel; I halfway suspect that Amis wrote it in order to vent his frustration with the publishing industry. And publishing, is, after, all, this novel's real subject. If one of the characteristics of great novels is that they make an attempt to define the limits and purpose of literature, "The Information" flunks that test completely. Even though just about everyone we meet works in the book trade, nobody seems to give literature, defined as an art form, a moment's thought. Richard, the failed novelist of the pair, is a book reviewer and sometime editor; Gwynn spends his days going to book-related interviews and photoshoots. I don't get the sense, though, that either one of them has an ounce of literary talent between them. Amis himself would probably call this criticism ridiculous. He isn't a high modernist and isn't trying to be one. Why bother with these value distinctions? Still, this stylistic choice makes his characters appear a little static. "The Information" is, after all, dealing with envy, a literary subject that's yielded a lot of good fruit in the past, but I don't get a sense that this emotion provokes any significant internal change in either of our protagonists during the course of the events described in the novel. Richard and Gwynn start off, respectively as a somewhat bitter and caustically funny former novelist and an ingratiating multimillionaire fraud, and they more or less end up that way, too. This isn't to say I didn't enjoy this book; I did, and wish I could write half as well as Amis does. Still, I can't understand why Saul Bellow, of all people, compares him to Joyce and Flaubet on my copy's back flap. Call me old-fashioned, but I'm hoping that "The Information" isn't the future of writing, or even book publishing.
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