Book Review: The Second Plane by Martin Amis
Posted on April 14, 2008 in Uncategorized
How many lazy clichés are there to describe Martin Amis? ‘Teeth-obsessed’ is one. ‘Kingsley’s Heir’ another. Then there’s the ‘Bard of Brash’; the ‘Czar of Cool’ and it seems impossible to review him without describing him as the ‘enfant terrible’ of British Literature. Recently the Anglo-American Press (including some previous employers) who traditionally held Amis as their darling, have added ‘racist’ and ‘disturbingly bigoted’ to the list of descriptions. How is it one of the luminaries of the English metropolitan literary establishment has suddenly become so reviled?
Martin Amis first wrote about September 11 a week after the event in a piece for The Guardian which began, ’It was the advent of the second plane, sharking in low over the Statue of Liberty: that was the defining moment.’ His latest non-fiction collection The Second Plane emphasizes and articulates the cultural differences between a politicized East and an intellectually lazy West. For Amis suicide bombing is a result of pathology and emasculation. In the short story The Last Days of Muhammad Atta, he imagines the missing hours of the hijacker of the first plane to hit the
In the format of journalistic essays and two short stories, The Second Plane acts as a chronological tour through Amis’ post 9/11 worldview. He attacks Islamism as anti-Semitic and anti-democratic and characterizes its adherents as being under the spell of a death-cult. He also criticizes Bush and the
For The Sunday Times, Amis shadowed Tony Blair through a number of diary dates as the Prime Minister’s days in power were winding down. Included in this collection he portrays a vivid account of the realities of power and the mechanization that surrounds it. Amis is enthralled at the armoured limo doors and the ease in which the cavalcade can move through
At times intellectually broadstroked but always informative, The Second Plane is a pitch-black satire for readers who like their politics interesting.