‘Money: A Suicide Note’ by Martin Amis

Money: A Suicide Note by Martin Amis is a novel published in 1984. Martin Amis is one of the most famous, eloquent, and brilliant British novelist and essayist. He is the son of Kingsley Amis, one of the masters of English literature. Time is the major parameter to decide if a book is a masterpiece or not. Money: A Suicide Note by Martin Amis is surely a benefactor of time, it has been one of the most well reviewed and well-written novels to come out of contemporary British literature, notwithstanding the lack of nomination for a Booker Prize.

Time magazine ranked the novel in its “100 best English-Language novels from 1923 to the present” list. In the poll, The Observer placed the novel at No.2 – behind unarguably the masterpiece, Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee – in answer to, “What’s the best novel in the past 25 years?”

Surprisingly, even Boris Johnson called Money: A Suicide Note, one of the great British Novels, during a Salman Rushdie debate with Christopher and Peter Hitchens at the BBC.

Money: A Suicide Note is a plotless novel. A page count of 394 pages, and not a faint arc of plotting is visible. However, I am very happy about the prospect of a plotless novel, as there have been many successful examples of it. What makes Money: A Suicide Note, so successful and masterful, is its distinctive voice, the whacky and often, abominable narrator John Self.

With a maturity and off-beat pungency which is richly embedded and rings through the works of Nabokov and Joyce, writers who inspired Martin Amis, he has absolutely nailed the prose. It is comical, abusive, offensive and nerve-tickling but never feels cheap or vulgar in purely literary terms. The novel never sinks under its own weight, rather the language crackling with wit and bursting with sardonic humour, feels like a gut punch, acting as an impetus to keep flipping through. I finished this book in nearly 3 days time, enough evidence, this novel gripped me obsessively from the beginning.

I have to dedicate a few words to Amis’ comical timing, the novel is insanely hilarious. It has an appetite to embrace the beauty of loudness in the narrative rather than subtlety, loping through the wondrously contrasting landscapes of New York and London, it takes the reader through a labyrinthine of acerbic emotions; John Self’s mind is a live, ticking time-bomb, waiting to explode with his appetite for hand-job, sex, drugs, alcohol, pornography, mountains of junk-food, and money. John Self has a mind with a dynamic force to convert every word, every image and every body into a form of currency, to interpret the world around him with the eyes popping out of a stack of notes, and cheques.

It is not a stroke of luck, that the novel is titled Money: A Suicide Note, it is a perfect title and the novel epitomises the title, in all its varieties and connotations. Some readers might be overwhelmed by the continuous rant, but it has to be there, the over surging multitudes of people, money, and debauchery to sicken and deviate from the conventional standards.

Money: A Suicide Note, is a novel, which rejects the conventional boundaries of literariness, and strives to become something more iconoclastic, reinventing literature to bring it to the modern epoch. A hilariously bone tickling masterpiece, that is morbid, embarrassing, occasionally disgusting but nonetheless, leaves the reader nothing short of, astonished and amazed.

Leave a comment