Jack’s Naughty Bits: Martin Amis, Money

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Jack's Naughty Bits


a game I used to play with some friends at Columbia. Assuming that there was nothing worse than being an obvious second best,

the point of the game was to say

to one another, “Hey ____, you’re no ____.” Hey Pepsi, you’re no Coke. Hey Burger King, you’re no

McDonald’s, and so on. As the latter component — the truly best — is meant to be obvious, it shouldn’t be

necessary to say it. Hey Engels. Hey Roebuck. Hey Roger Moore. You get the drift. So when I

first picked up a book by Martin Amis, having read a number of books by his extremely talented

father Kingsley, I had only one thing in my mind: hey Julian Lennon. I assumed poor Martin’s

flower was trying to bloom with shallow roots in borrowed sunlight. But you know what? I was

wrong. Seems more like he resolved the predictable Oedipal dilemma in the most direct way

possible: kill Pop with his own pen.


Amis the younger is good, real good. The scene below is from his breakthrough novel,

Money, in which a bloated, bumbling and fabulously vulgar English commercial

director gets bankrolled to make a feature film in Hollywood. Like most of Amis’ characters,

John Self is a believable and recognizable caricature, a stock player in the twilight of the

millennium, and we love him through his flaws. Below we find Self at his best, in a hotel room

with the bombshell lead of his film, having done a “hangman’s rope” of a line of cocaine with

his 52-inch waist trousers around his ankles doing what most of us assume we’ll never do:

boffing a superstar.

* * *

From Money by Martin Amis

At this moment in time I am doing something that millions of people all over the planet are

longing, are aching, are dying to do. Eskimos dream about it. Pygmies beat off about it. You’ve

thought about it, pal, take my word for it. You too, angel, if you’re at all that way inclined.

The whole world wants to do it. And I’m doing it . . . I am giving Butch Beausoleil one. You

don’t believe me? But I am! Round from the back, what’s more. You get the picture: she’s on all

fours and clutching the headpiece of her neighing brass bed. If I glance downwards, like so, and

retract my gut, I can see her valentine card and the mysterious trail of her cleft, like the inside

of a halved apple. Now do you believe me? Wait: here comes her hand, idling

slantways down her rump, ten bucks of manicure on each fingertip. Why she seems to be . . .

Wow. Selina herself doesn’t do that too often. And I bet not even Selina does it on the first

date. Well, true sack artists, they adore themselves, every inch . . . I’m in a position to tell you

that the camera doesn’t lie. I’ve seen Butch naked before, partially on screen and fully in one of

the whack magazines that feature celebrity indiscretions, but that hardly prepared me for all

this costly flesh texture and high-tab body tone, not to mention the bunk knowhow on such

vivid display . . .


At last: she’s making those noises . . . Butch would seem to be girding herself for some

kind of apocalyptic jackpot and, yes, I’m along for the ride too, panting and jabbering and

holding on for dear life. Now or never. What shall I think about, to help me jump off the

train? I’ll think about Butch Beausoleil. It’s working . . .

© Martin Amis