The Amis Family Feud: Why Did Kingsley Hate His Son’s Work?
One of the most well-known father-son duos in all of literature has to be Martin Amis and his father, Kingsley Amis.
Martin, of course, is the author of Money while his father, Kingsley, is the author of Lucky Jim–both books are on the Time list.
The most interesting thing about their relationship, though, is Kingsley Amis’s disdain for his son’s work. Before he passed in 1995, the elder Amis wasn’t shy about publicly ridiculing Martin’s writing.
According to Martin, the two men still got along despite their differences. Here’s how he described their relationship to The New York Times in 1990.
His fondness for his father is such that he has never publicly retaliated, nor objected to Kingsley’s opinions of his work. Martin takes it sadly, makes light of it. Apparently, Kingsley liked the beginning of his son’s last novel, ”Money,” a hectic tour of lowlife New York, London and Los Angeles, but didn’t finish it. ”I can point out the exact place where he stopped and sent the book twirling through the air; that’s where the character named Martin Amis comes in. ‘Breaking the rules, buggering about with the reader, drawing attention to himself,’ ” Martin says wearily, reciting his father’s litany of complaints.
I know exactly the passage that Martin Amis points out there because I underlined it. John Self, the protagonist, stumbles across this writer, Martin Amis, a few times in the city streets and in pubs across London.
For me, a writer placing himself into his novel as a secondary character his pretty funny, although perhaps a bit self-indulgent. Apparently, Kingsley disagreed.
Getting that far in the novel was a success, compared to Kingsley’s previous experiences reading his son’s work. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Martin Amis to be in the exact same profession as his father and to receive that amount of criticism, especially public criticism.
That had to be difficult. But Martin Amis has a made a nice career for himself, despite the lack of support from his father.
More interesting information in their relationship in this article at The New York Times.
(Image of Martin Amis: Wikimedia Commons)