I just read Night Train by Martin Amis at K’s recommendation on her blog. It blew me away for many reasons. For such a small book it packs a big punch. Why did you want her to read it?
I read Night Train when it first came out, just after I’d finished The Blue Place but before it was published. It was a really clear example of what a writer could do with the noir form–Amis really is very good–and what I didn’t want to do, was glad I hadn’t done, with The Blue Place.
Amis brings a fine and powerful focus, a driving energy, to the narrative. That’s something I aimed for, too, in TBP–yet they’re such different kinds of energy. Amis’s character, Mike (female) is a blunt force; she grips you around the head and squeezes. Aud is more like a slicing wind. I wanted Kelley to read them both and tell me what she saw and thought and felt. But that was a very busy time in our lives, and it didn’t happen.
But it did last month, so, hey, it all works out. And here, for your delectation and delight is an excerpt from a review of both books from City Pages, Minneapolis:
Resembling John Woo’s movies, The Blue Place swims inside violence as in a lushly colored dream; it makes a polar opposite to Martin Amis’s gaunt Night Train, which also stars a big-boned, quick-fisted woman cop. Amis’s anti-heroine is clearly a man in disguise, weary of the cruel noirish milieu the author can’t quite admit to creating. Griffith, meanwhile, writes Aud as convincingly female, because she would claim for women the entire spectrum of human behavior, including brutality and its sometime converse, rage.
It’s been a long time since I read it NT. I do agree with the reviewer’s idea that the narrative and tone of TBP is lush where NT is much more spare–gaunt is a good word–but I’m not sure I agree with her/his gender analysis. I’m not saying I disagree, I just don’t remember the book well enough–apart from that pile driver narrative force–to have an opinion one way or the other.
It’s a short book, and a very fast read. Definitely worth two hours of your life.
10 thoughts on “Night Train, by Martin Amis Ask Nicola”
Thanks for this. The review was spot on, but it made me grin a little too. Many men have written fine women and vice versa. TBP was the better book by far, but NT was a very good read, even though it had that Freudian “what do women want” puzzled quality.
I’ve put it on my hold list at the library…
So I guess this is the book I am ordering?…
I opened an account with Amazon just so I could leave a review of your blog. I even first tried to “second the ‘notion'” to Mordicai’s wonderful review (you ARE a Level Boss on my favorite video game!) but Amazon said “shame on you for trying to be cheap and sneaky”! So I ordered Night Train, have to wait 24 hours, and then I can post a review.
Don’t know that it’ll be as cool as ol’ Mordicai’s though. :)
I ordered it when Kelley first mentioned it. And after Barbara’s comment there a couple of days ago I decided to start on it yesterday. It is a short one, but I didn’t have time to finish it yet.
It is really good writing, and I’m glad to be reading it.
Jennifer D, let me kow what you think of it please. I would like to know, as I value your thoughtful comments on this blog.
Thanks Barbara, and I’ll definitely check back in once I’ve had a chance to finish the book. No time to read for a few more days…
Just finished reading Night Train, and initially got the feeling that I’d missed something — like reading Goethe or Shakespeare and knowing that there’s more going on than meets the eye if you could just figure out all the nuances.
Upon reading the reviews, I find I wasn’t the only one. The inconsistencies of style were distracting, felt sloppy, although you could possibly say it added verisimilitude to a long and rambling suicide note. The phrasing at times was jarring. (Does anyone really say, “I am a police?” instead of “I am THE police?”) Overall technique was good, self-propelling, but not as good as (for example) The Blue Place. And the ending was much less satisfying.
As for whether Amis succeeded in making Mike read like a woman, I think there was only one place that struck me as jarringly un-female — calling a woman a “broad” without any kind of whimsy.
I finished it as well. I thought it was very well written – very moving, very unusual. I found Mike convincingly female – just a very different person/female than Aud and also from the average woman. I don’t think it would ever have occurred to me to compare the two characters or books.
One of the things that makes me like a book is liking the characters in it. I am very fond of Aud. Mike, I did like enough to care about what happened — but no where near as much as I like Aud.
And I agree – Nicola’s books are better, but that does not take away from this book. I thought it well worth the read, but I’m not sure I ever want to go there again.
JD, I was struck by the fact that you didn’t mention the suicide. Suicide makes detectives of all survivors. Thanks for responding.
Barbara, look over on K’s blog.
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