The War Against Cliche: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000 share button
Martin Amis
Format Paperback
Dimensions 5.18 (w) x 8.02 (h) x 1.19 (d)
Pages 528
Publisher Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication Date July 2002
ISBN 9780375727160
Book ISBN 10 0375727167
About Book

Is there anything that Martin Amis can’t write about? In this virtuosic, career-spanning collection he takes on James Joyce and Elvis Presley, Nabokov and English football, Jane Austen and Penthouse Forum, William Burroughs and Hillary Clinton. But above all, Amis is concerned with literature, and with the deadly cliches–not only of the pen, but of the mind and the heart.

In The War Against Cliché, Amis serves up fresh assessments of the classics and plucks neglected masterpieces off their dusty shelves. He tilts with Cervantes, Dickens and Milton, celebrates Bellow, Updike and Elmore Leonard, and deflates some of the most bloated reputations of the past three decades. On every page Amis writes with jaw-dropping felicity, wit, and a subversive brilliance that sheds new light on everything he touches.

Winner of the 2001 National Book Critics Circle Award, Criticism.


Cleveland Plain Dealer

Sharply written...striking assessment.

Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

A man of enormous wit, blinding intelligence, and instructive passion.

Miami Herald

Terrific . . . The collection is an absolute necessity for avid lovers of literature, most of whom will agree that Judge Time is most likely to be kind to a writer as fine as Amis.

Michiko Kakutani

In The War Against Cliché, these reviews and essays provide a melodic accompaniment to Mr. Amis's glittering achievements as a novelist.
New York Times

New York Post

His writing makes this a rare book of criticism, its pages full of grinning wit, piercing insight and confident, modest erudition.

New York Times Book Review

Amis's journalism is narrowly focused but uncannily vivid. He proselytizes for talent by demonstrating it, by doing it, by believing in its necessity, himself.


Amis has amassed a collection of material so sharp that it reminds you not only of why he was invited to the party in the first place, but why he might stay longer than some of the other literary loudmouths.

Rocky Mountain News

Amis' talent is to write books and book reviews, and to do both very well.

San Francisco Chronicle

Whatever the book, there is no one whose review of it you'd rather read.

San Jose Mercury News

A delicious book...Amis sets such a high standard.

Seattle Times Post Intelligencer

This fine collection performs an essential job of book criticism: It makes you want to go out and read.

Time Out New York

Illuminating....unfailingly funny, perceptive and guillotine-sharp.

Village Voice

His arguments inject charm and energy...Amis's prose combines a liveliness and vulnerability that's rare in criticism.

Washington Post

As a critic, Amis is honest and patient. The man's a genius with words. As one avidly turns page after page, Amis deftly keeps the reader's excitement ratcheted up.

Library Journal

Amis's critiques cover wide-ranging topics and are well worth reading, particularly when the erudition on display is liberated by humor, regarding not only the subject under examination but often the examiner himself. Amis, best known for his novels (e.g., London Fields, The Information), recognizes an authorial foible, then pounces on it not without grace, not without vigor. His evaluations are lively, scholarly, and, on rare occasion, numbing though probably less so for those few who know as much about literature as Amis. Requiring less literary background are his essays on poker or chess, Elvis Presley, or the sexual allure of Margaret Thatcher. The Amis view is at its best or at least at its most readable when he is chatting up such standards as Don Quixote, Pride and Prejudice, Ulysses, and Lolita. His lengthy commentary on Nabokov, Larkin, and Updike certainly informs, as do shorter pieces on Roth, Burroughs, Capote, Burgess, and Vidal. To paraphrase Vidal, the best writing allows the reader to participate. Without question, Amis appreciates this concept and puts it into practice in his most accomplished criticisms. Recommended for academic libraries. Robert L. Kelly, Fort Wayne Community Schs., IN Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.