Saturday, 11 April 2009

Time's Arrow: or The Nature of the Offence - Martin Amis

There is nothing original about writing life backwards. Yet it is a mark of Martin Amis’s subtle humour that he is able to say something truly fascinating about human nature. This is the story of Todd T. Friendly, former Nazi Medical Executioner and now all-round American nice-guy. By situating the narrator within Todd’s body but not actually part of his mind, the narrator is able to take a step back from the action, to observe the absurdities of life, whether backwards or forwards. This book also plays with your consciousness, blurring your interaction with the world. Whenever I stopped reading, I found myself completely unsure which way round things should happen: should I get in or out of the bath next? How many books can alter the state of your mind, even for a few moments? Martin Amis is toying with your psyche, few author have the playful sense of humour to do this with such an apparently serious subject.

8 out of 10

1 comment:

World? said...

I have to agree with your comments about the choice to place the narrator as a spectator to, rather than as a part of the lead character. The book took off with the narrator's sudden change of heart later in the book as he starts to respect the lead character's work in the Nazi prison camps. My feelings towards the narrator surprised me: why am I more unsettled by his comments than the actions of the lead character. This is what raised it above its gimmicks for me.