metrosantacruz.com
News, music, movies, events & restaurants in Santa Cruz, California from Metro Santa Cruz weekly

January 24-30, 2007

home | metro silicon valley index | the arts | books | review


'House of Meetings'

House of Meetings
(By Martin Amis; Knopf; 256 pages; $23 cloth)

This swift, weird little novel by Martin Amis is his best fiction in years. Two stories pivot on the axis of a profoundly gripping voice. In the background, two brothers fall for a young Jewish woman in Moscow in the period after World War II but before some of Stalin's murderous purges. One is a sensitive poet; the other a pragmatic killer. As the book opens, the loser in this battle for her heart returns to Norlag, the gulag where he spent a dozen-plus years, dredging up old feelings, ruminating on what he expects to get from seeing the source of his deprivation and torture again. His twisting, self-lacerating narrative, we are to believe, is a letter to his step-daughter. As the years have gone on, believing in Amis' fiction has presented more and more hurdles. That a man would write this way to his family—"in a state of permanent lost temper"—seems unlikely, but Amis' prose is worked to such a fine, filthy froth here it is easy to overlook this minor quibble. This is a powerful story about envy, decline and the long-term corrosive effects of crime on the soul, in which brotherhood emerges not a bloodline but a kind of fatal embrace. (EVENT: Amis appears for a booksigning on Jan. 25 at 7:30pm at Kepler's, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park.)

Review by John Freeman


Send a letter to the editor about this story.






SILICON VALLEY MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES
SILICON VALLEY PERFORMANCE THEATERS
SILICON VALLEY BOOKSTORES
MORE SILICON VALLEY ARTS AND EVENT VENUES
SEARCH UPCOMING ARTS EVENTS


VISUAL ARTS
Museums and gallery notes.

BOOKS
Reviews of new book releases.

STAGE
Reviews and previews of new plays, operas and symphony performances.

DANCE
Reviews and previews of new dance performances and events.