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Benevolent Irrationality

In a new book of essays, Martin Amis takes scathing aim at memes, monsters and monosyllabic presidents

INTERVIEW

Photograph by CHRISTOPHER LANE
GETTY

CINEMA PARADISO The best of the Sundance Film Festival

ONE OF THE MANY LAUGH-OUT-LOUD moments in Martin Amis’s new collection of essays, The Rub of Time, is this sentence: “If for some reason you were confined to a single adjective to describe Las Vegas, then you would have to settle for the following: un-Islamic.”

Thus opens “Losing Las Vegas,” a 2006 article Amis wrote for The Sunday Times about competing in the World Series of Poker. It is one of 45 pieces (essays, reportage, personal reflections, political commentary) commissioned by a variety of publications over 23 years—1994 to 2017—with topics ranging wildly: pre- and post-presidency Donald Trump, suicide bombers, the now-forgotten resurgence of John Travolta, the death of Princess Diana and gonzo porn, among others. The Booker Prize– winning author is best known in America for his novels—14 to date. The common denominator in all of his work: scathing wit, a piercing eye for detail and prose as elegant as it is fierce. A right hook with a velvet glove.

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