“Experience” by Martin Amis

Experience_by_Martin_AmisNever judge a book by its cover or by another person´s opinion.

I remember a certain highly respectable teacher at a highly respectable college throwing stones at Martin Amis (and his father, the core of the book in question). I also remember how I felt she must have loved them. Only someone who loves somebody else – in a twisted but still real kind of way – can hate them that much. When you dislike a writer, you ignore him/her. You dismiss his/her work with a silent nod; you don´t speak about him/her with aggressive passion, contempt and open disgust. We ignore what we don´t like. We (secretly) love what we say we hate. Another rule that can surely be broken. But not in this case.

I bought Martin Amis “Experience” in Oxford, England, no less. At my favourite bookshop, in my favourite city, in the perfect moment. Mum was with me and I was getting ready to teach in the city, then London, in the following days.

-Sorry, mum…don´t condemn me. I know about the piles of unread books…I know I cannot possibly read a third part of the books I keep buying but…it´s stronger than me.

It was. It is. It will always be, perhaps.

Between cappuccinos, church bells and that thrill I only feel when I´m in Oxford, I started reading the book and I never stopped. Me, the girl who reads 5 books at the same time; me, the girl who starts a book and betrays it with another one: exchanging the husband for the lovers and then the lovers for the husband – a literary conjugal mess. Me, the unfaithful one who jumps from passion/book to passion/book. I just couldn´t leave it.

I took it to China. On the way to that Far, Far, Far East land, I laughed, cried and stopped to think on several occasions. Some times, the rococo language and the excessive notes bored me but, right after that, Martin Amis would throw a show stopper at me and I´d fall in love again.

It´s not fresh news: I am a fan of autobiographies and memoirs. The incredible lives of real people are often more surprising than fiction stories. Reality is always more unbelievable than fiction, anyway. We know that.

The last pages of the book were devoured in a my jacouzzi, at the hotel in China, where I went to perform, teach and judge (Jingya International Festival – fabulous!). A cup of tea was my companion, as well as the BBC that kept rainning on Greece crisis. I marvelled at the feeling the whole book left in me: compassion. I knew I´d turned into a Martin Amis reader. It was obvious.

Above every aspect that contributes to a great reading experience, HONESTY and VULNERABILITY come forward as the winners. It applies to dance as well. Authors/creators who talk open and candidly about the darkest nooks of their soul tend to be unforgettable. Then you have the talent, the dominion of the language, that English wit and sarcastic sense of humor I love so much. Those help. But it´s the pearls – honesty and vulnerability – that put the cherry on the top of the cake.

On my way back, waiting for an airplane in Milan (Italy), I bought “The Zone of Interest” from the same author. Ready to be mesmerized. Zone_of_interest_cover

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