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10.16.2002 by Julian, every Tuesday.

‘You want another scotch?’ said the matron behind the bar—…
‘Yeah,’ I said, and started smoking another cigarette. Unless I specifically inform you otherwise I’m always smoking another cigarette.

These are the words of John Self, anti-hero and narrator of Martin Amis’s Money. Throughout the course of the book he rarely informs us otherwise, and as well as smoking a lot, he drinks a lot, takes lots of drugs, has lots of sex with lots of different women, drinks a lot, watches a lot of pornography, masturbates a lot, drinks a lot, and gets into a lot of fights. And he drinks a lot. A lot. He’s also obsessed with money, as the title suggests. Every other sentence seems to contain the word. John Self is a disgusting, violent, sexist pig. But he’s also very endearing. Much as you want to hate him you’ll find yourself charmed by his eloquence and honesty. He’s too pathetic to hate, really, and you feel sorry for him as he gets into all kinds of trouble (as people with too much money tend to do).

Money is the story of John’s experience in the movie biz. A successful producer of TV ads, John is approached by Fielding Goodney, a young, hip, Californian producer who wants to work with John on his first feature film, which is either going to be titled “Good Money” or “Bad Money”. Goodney supplies John with tons of money and signs on big movie stars—all of whom are psychotic in one way or another.

Meanwhile, John’s long-time girlfriend has been cheating on him (nearly as much as he’s been cheating on her), his dad is offering money to have him assaulted, his best friend’s in prison, and his car keeps breaking down. To make matters even worse, he’s in love.

Money is a very funny book. It’s funny in a very blunt, crude way, but it’s also very clever and witty. Amis mixes humour of the highest and lowest brows. He even manages to pull off the love story without making it incredibly cheesy—a near impossible task! The only part I didn’t enjoy was the ending. The twist seemed too contrived, too far-fetched. It was the one point in the book at which Amis seemed like he was trying to be a bit too clever for his own good. It was too obvious that Amis was trying to make a point.

The rest of the book’s great fun, though. It’s fun in the same way that getting incredibly drunk and having lots of gratuitous sex is fun. And if that’s not high praise, I don’t know what is!

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