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"Martin Amis is a stone-solid genius...a dazzling star of wit and insight." --The Wall Street Journal In this wickedly delightful collection of stories, Martin Amis once again demonstrates why he is a modern master of the form. In "Career Move," screenwriters struggle for their art, while poets are the darlings of Hollywood. In "Straight Fiction," the love that dare not spe "Martin Amis is a stone-solid genius...a dazzling star of wit and insight." --The Wall Street Journal In this wickedly delightful collection of stories, Martin Amis once again demonstrates why he is a modern master of the form. In "Career Move," screenwriters struggle for their art, while poets are the darlings of Hollywood. In "Straight Fiction," the love that dare not speak its name calls out to the hero when he encounters a forbidden object of desire--the opposite sex. And in "State of England," Mal, a former "minder to the superstars," discovers how to live in a country where "class and race and gender were supposedly gone." In Heavy Water and Other Stories, Amis astonishes us with the vast range of his talent, establishing that he is one of the most versatile and gifted writers of his generation.


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"Martin Amis is a stone-solid genius...a dazzling star of wit and insight." --The Wall Street Journal In this wickedly delightful collection of stories, Martin Amis once again demonstrates why he is a modern master of the form. In "Career Move," screenwriters struggle for their art, while poets are the darlings of Hollywood. In "Straight Fiction," the love that dare not spe "Martin Amis is a stone-solid genius...a dazzling star of wit and insight." --The Wall Street Journal In this wickedly delightful collection of stories, Martin Amis once again demonstrates why he is a modern master of the form. In "Career Move," screenwriters struggle for their art, while poets are the darlings of Hollywood. In "Straight Fiction," the love that dare not speak its name calls out to the hero when he encounters a forbidden object of desire--the opposite sex. And in "State of England," Mal, a former "minder to the superstars," discovers how to live in a country where "class and race and gender were supposedly gone." In Heavy Water and Other Stories, Amis astonishes us with the vast range of his talent, establishing that he is one of the most versatile and gifted writers of his generation.

30 review for Heavy Water and Other Stories

  1. 4 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    Four stories in, and I am done with this tripe. A guy constantly spanking the monkey whilst bent over his wife's face isn't what I expected, but to be honest, I didn't know what to expect, having never read him before. Even skipped to the title story 'Heavy Water' in the hope of that at least being worthy of being the title story. No, not really. It's difficult for me to pass judgement on Martin Amis on a few measly short-stories, of which ranged from the 70's to the 90's (some even featured in Four stories in, and I am done with this tripe. A guy constantly spanking the monkey whilst bent over his wife's face isn't what I expected, but to be honest, I didn't know what to expect, having never read him before. Even skipped to the title story 'Heavy Water' in the hope of that at least being worthy of being the title story. No, not really. It's difficult for me to pass judgement on Martin Amis on a few measly short-stories, of which ranged from the 70's to the 90's (some even featured in the New Yorker), added to fact I have yet to read one of his novels (why I made the strange decision to read this, and not one of his better known works as my first Amis is a mystery to me), but going by just half of this collection, he is either just not suited and booted as a writer of the short-story format, or, because of what he writes about, just makes him simply not my kind of writer full stop. I will likely have a crack at one of his novels, but will not be rushing off in great anticipation any time soon to expeditiously grab hold of one. I am now tempted to lie through my teeth and tell the relative in question they have great taste when it comes to writers, giving me a better chance of receiving a nice book voucher for Christmas!. And no, they are not part of the GR family, so thankfully won't be reading this.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Violet wells

    Apart from the odd brilliant one liner - "It was the kind of sentence that spent a lot of time in reverse gear before crunching itself into first." - and naughty joke I can't say I found much nourishment here. Often with Amis, the catalyst for his work seems to be a joke. It was an inspiration that worked well for him with his middle period novels. A literary writer jealous of his hack writer friend's massive success and his backfiring determination to do him harm. Using a proficiency at darts t Apart from the odd brilliant one liner - "It was the kind of sentence that spent a lot of time in reverse gear before crunching itself into first." - and naughty joke I can't say I found much nourishment here. Often with Amis, the catalyst for his work seems to be a joke. It was an inspiration that worked well for him with his middle period novels. A literary writer jealous of his hack writer friend's massive success and his backfiring determination to do him harm. Using a proficiency at darts to evoke the paucity of cultural aspiration in the Britain of the 1990s. Deploying a narrative that runs backwards to write about the Holocaust. Some of these stories too are founded on a joke. What if poets made huge bucks and sci fi screenwriters had to publish their work in pokey magazines? What if most people in the world were gay and straight people were vilified? The problem for me was he failed to animate or give much depth to any of these comic inversions. The story with the most scope for vituperative social criticism and pathos follows a woman and her down-syndrome son on a cruise. But even this turned out to be a bit boring. The final story was unreadable. Safe to say, the short story and Martin Amis is not a match made in heaven. I've made a promise to myself to revisit Amis this year to discover to what extent my youthful enthusiasm now seems warranted.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    The stories in this collection vary wildly in terms of length, subject matter, characterization and literary device. Amis moves effortlessly across continents, depicting British and American culture convincingly and creating vivid and unique characters. The stories here have an experimental feel and as with all experiments, some work better than others. Amis is strongest when portraying British working class people, with that classic British dry humor and wit. This is best illustrated in “State The stories in this collection vary wildly in terms of length, subject matter, characterization and literary device. Amis moves effortlessly across continents, depicting British and American culture convincingly and creating vivid and unique characters. The stories here have an experimental feel and as with all experiments, some work better than others. Amis is strongest when portraying British working class people, with that classic British dry humor and wit. This is best illustrated in “State of England,” which also deftly handles race relations in modern, ethnically diverse London. “What Happened to Me on My Holiday” is written in a made up dialect that is difficult to grasp at first but worth putting in the effort. It turns out to be a surprisingly effective technique for portraying a young boy’s first experiences with death. I struggled with “The Janitor on Mars,” an odd juxtaposition of intelligent (if sadistic) life on mars and pedophilia in an orphanage here on earth. It was a long read, heavy on scientific jargon that became tiresome for me. Most of these stories have been published elsewhere, three in The New Yorker, as well as in Esquire, Granta and other publications. So clearly they enjoy some critical acclaim. A fun diversion from the ordinary but not for everyone.

  4. 4 out of 5

    W.D. Clarke

    In a parallel universe a talentless but commercially successful poetaster pulls down the Big Bucks with his sonnet ‘Sonnet’ and is fêted, lauded and jet-setted about ceaselessly by the boys in ‘Development’, while his impoverished and ignored counterpart struggles to place his screenplay with one of the many The Little Magazines of this world. Its title? Offensive From Quasar 13. In Amis’s mock-dystopic vision, the poets would finally get to legislate the hell out of Mankind and the brain-dead p In a parallel universe a talentless but commercially successful poetaster pulls down the Big Bucks with his sonnet ‘Sonnet’ and is fêted, lauded and jet-setted about ceaselessly by the boys in ‘Development’, while his impoverished and ignored counterpart struggles to place his screenplay with one of the many The Little Magazines of this world. Its title? Offensive From Quasar 13. In Amis’s mock-dystopic vision, the poets would finally get to legislate the hell out of Mankind and the brain-dead papmeisters of Hollywood would get their due comeuppance. Or would they? Screenwriters were already the lowest form of life in Tinseltown, anyhow, and in the story (as in life) the Moguls still manage to find a way to get rich on something—on anything: for Business, life’s one real constant, is/was/ever-shall-be Business, after all, and if you couldn’t get the (born-every-minute) suckers to pay to see a movie, then you could sell’em something else - anything, perhaps even (Jesus!) Capital-P Poetry for Chrissakes. —This story, ‘Career Move’ is worth the price of admission alone in this somewhat uneven but always inventive collection. Recommended for Amis fans, but not for first-timers. Or screenwriters.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Toby

    It would appear that short stories are not the forte of Martin Amis if this collection is anything to go by. This collection isn't even wildly uneven in its quality and instead varies from the awful to the OK to the unreadable. Throughout my reading experience I struggled desperately to find something to cling to, some form of entertainment or enjoyment or depth to the prose but I just couldn't locate any of that or any of what I usually take from a Martin Amis work. It has allowed me, however, It would appear that short stories are not the forte of Martin Amis if this collection is anything to go by. This collection isn't even wildly uneven in its quality and instead varies from the awful to the OK to the unreadable. Throughout my reading experience I struggled desperately to find something to cling to, some form of entertainment or enjoyment or depth to the prose but I just couldn't locate any of that or any of what I usually take from a Martin Amis work. It has allowed me, however, to try to put a finger on what it is I usually find so appealing about the man's work. So far all I have is the voice of his characters, definitely something that was lacking within every single story in this collection and usually something applied by Amis with an over enthusiasm for the vagaries and minutiae of individual experience. In this way I would pick State of England as my highlight, as it was the closest we get to a traditional Amis-esque story except that it reads almost like a discarded early draft of London Fields. At the other end of the spectrum What Happened to Me on My Holiday is written in a created 'dialect' that is pretty much unreadable and in the middle are stories that put a twist on contemporary society, what if poets were treated like screenwriters and screenwriters like poets? or what if being homosexual was the norm and heterosexual people the group of people struggling to prove that they are not deviants in the eyes of a biased society? They both read as obvious attempts to explore an idea more than to actually create an interesting story but remind me of wannabe authors in a creative writing class taught part time at night school than the work of a man who has won awards for his command of the English language in works of fiction. Perhaps this is the way Martin Amis chooses to use the format of the short story and that's fine but if he is merely exploring throwaway ideas perhaps they shouldn't be collected and published in an attempt to legitimise them.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Caty

    I usually find Martin Amis to be a pale imitation of his acclaimed father and Will Self, but this collection includes one of my favorite short stories EVER: "The Janitor on Mars". Fucking amazing and I'll say no more. I usually find Martin Amis to be a pale imitation of his acclaimed father and Will Self, but this collection includes one of my favorite short stories EVER: "The Janitor on Mars". Fucking amazing and I'll say no more.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    A modest but enjoyable collection, marred by occasional over-reliance on a concept or conceit. While I enjoyed most of the stories to some extent, there are some missed opportunities or failed experiments. Two of the stories ('Career Move' and 'Straight Fiction') rely on the same concept: a counter-world of inverted values. In the first, poets are hot commodities and become fabulously wealthy. In the second, almost everybody is gay (one assumes: the existence of lesbians is inferred but never to A modest but enjoyable collection, marred by occasional over-reliance on a concept or conceit. While I enjoyed most of the stories to some extent, there are some missed opportunities or failed experiments. Two of the stories ('Career Move' and 'Straight Fiction') rely on the same concept: a counter-world of inverted values. In the first, poets are hot commodities and become fabulously wealthy. In the second, almost everybody is gay (one assumes: the existence of lesbians is inferred but never touched upon) and heterosexuals are a tolerated and pitied minority. Neither story amounts to much, leading me to suspect that they were perhaps written out of an excess of authorial self-regard. To be blunt, they seem like ideas born out of an evening of drinking with friends: "Hey, you should write a story where being straight is a social handicap!" Anyway, Anthony Burgess did the whole "gay as normal" thing in The Wanting Seed, back in 1962. The last story ('What Happened to Me on Holiday') is very nearly unreadable. The stylistic conceit is a phonic rendering of the child narrator's heavily-accented speech. All but the last paragraph of the story izz renda endiz phazhin firzome reezin. It never gets eezear…sorry, 'easier' to read, and the point of the experiment and the story is lost. An awful and even infuriating reading experience. Most of the stories are kind of plodding, middle-of-the-road pieces, neither actively bad nor remarkably good. These typically start from a sound if uninspiring (not to say clichéd) concept: a man waits calmly for his impending execution; a man is struggling with divorce being a good father; a man is frustrated because his wife doesn't want to have sex, etc. Not surprisingly, no great insights emerge from these humble beginnings, though they are decent reads. When reading Amis, it's hard not to notice the politically and/or culturally conservative/reactionary elements. Only one story has a female protagonist, and the focus of the story is her son. This sexism will not surprise those who've read Amis before. Some of the descriptions of the clothes worn and food prepared by the gay narrator of 'Straight Fiction' seem to cross the line into rococo stereotype: at one point a character is preparing a main dish accented with pomegranate, passion fruit, papaya, pomelo, and Asian pear. Finally, there were some moments in one of the stories when the presentation of a black character seemed uncomfortably close to the edge of racial stereotype. So why read the book? Two reasons. First, I thought two of the stories ('The Coincidence of the Arts' and 'Heavy Water') were quite good. The first is effectively comedic, while the second is gently tragic. In these stories, initial concept, evocative writing, and narrative pay-off are all aligned. Recommended reading, in other words. Second, the usual Amis quota of sparkling prose is to be found throughout the book, even in the less impressive stories. Some sample sentences illustrate the point: • "It was the kind of sentence that spent a lot of time in reverse gear before crunching itself into first." • "There was a lady, nearly Mother’s age, who with clockwork vigor performed a high-stepping music-hall number about prostitution, disease, and penury." • "Rodney flattered, flirted, fumbled, failed." • "He turned: a square lawn supporting two ancient trees, both warped and crushed by time into postures of lavatorial agony." • "Between them bobbed other heads of hair work—gray streaks, pageboy, urchin, dyed caramel; and, among the men, various tragedies of disappearance, variously borne, and always the guy with a single strand pasted across his dome, as if one sideburn had thrown a line to the other." • "Like a mirage of power and heat the touring-coaches throbbed on the quayside." On the whole, it's a middling collection featuring a couple of standouts, a couple of clunkers, and a lot of perfectly serviceable writing. You could do a lot worse, but it won't make you forget (e.g.) Alice Munro or William Trevor.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    Several years ago, perhaps many years ago, I decided Martin Amis's fiction was not worth reading because he was a snarky Brit who wasn't all that funny despite his barbed wit and talent for replicating the various accents of Britain's various social classes. Then I came back to Amis a few years ago and read some novels I liked because they were full, rounded, comical but serious. Now I've made the mistake of trying to read a collection of Amis's stories called Heavy Water that comprises tales w Several years ago, perhaps many years ago, I decided Martin Amis's fiction was not worth reading because he was a snarky Brit who wasn't all that funny despite his barbed wit and talent for replicating the various accents of Britain's various social classes. Then I came back to Amis a few years ago and read some novels I liked because they were full, rounded, comical but serious. Now I've made the mistake of trying to read a collection of Amis's stories called Heavy Water that comprises tales written from the 70s into the 90s. I suppose I wanted to see if I was wrong when I first wrote him off. Well, I wasn't. It's just that over time he has become a much better writer. Back then Martin Amis wrote stories as if they were basically jokes. He'd develop a counterfactual conceit--for instance, that poems were treated like blockbusters by Hollywood moguls--and explore how weird that would be. Pretty weird. Or he would spin out a tale told by a janitor on Mars, eager to communicate with earth (or earthlings). Or he would describe a world in which the gays dominated the scene and the heterosexuals (the hets) were forced to play the role of the gays (mocked, dissed, what have you.) Lots of upside down and inside out stuff. Wouldn't it be funny if this . . . ? Wouldn't it be funny if that . . . ? I won't belabor the point. One can see even in Amis's early stories the striking wit, gift with words and images, and pulsing cultural awareness that ultimately made him a significant writer. But he wasn't really interesting; he was the son of a better-known writer who worked his way through his apprenticeship and kept going. Good for him. Skip the early stuff and read what he's writing now.

  9. 5 out of 5

    M.

    After putting down both 'Money' and 'The Rachel Papers' without finishing them, I was skeptical about even buying this book which I did only because I found a pocket paperback copy of it and 'Dead Babies' at the used bookstore around the corner for only $2 each. Except for "Straight Fiction" (which is obvious and hardly clever even) and "What Happened to Me on My Holiday" (which, while fun to read, may be a bit too sentimental), every single one of these stories is phenomenal. Martin Amis is endl After putting down both 'Money' and 'The Rachel Papers' without finishing them, I was skeptical about even buying this book which I did only because I found a pocket paperback copy of it and 'Dead Babies' at the used bookstore around the corner for only $2 each. Except for "Straight Fiction" (which is obvious and hardly clever even) and "What Happened to Me on My Holiday" (which, while fun to read, may be a bit too sentimental), every single one of these stories is phenomenal. Martin Amis is endlessly clever, blunt, rash, poignant, insightful, touching, and shocking, all at the same time. His stories run the gamut from more traditional ("Heavy Water", where a mother struggles to entertain and manage her vaguely mentally handicapped son aboard a cruise ship), to gratuitous ("Let Me Count the Times", where a husband abandons his meticulous sexual practices with his wife for an affair...with himself) to science fiction ("The Janitor on Mars", where a "functional" pedophile working in an orphanage watches man's first encounter with Martians on the television while simultaneously attempting to find a rapist among his staff). I came to this one with my arms crossed, but was overwhelmingly surprised. I loved it. Highly, highly recommended. Personal favorites: "State of England", "The Coincidence of the Arts", "Heavy Water", and "The Janitor on Mars".

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michael P.

    I finally get why so many people like Martin Amis and so many dislike Martin Amis. He is such a skillful prose stylist that his stories can be as hard to put down as they are to finish because of his nasty characters and view of the world. No, I do not like these stories very much but I admire the skill that went into writing them. Different people will prefer different stories, of course, but I favor the first and third where the author tries to get us to see the world differently by simple swit I finally get why so many people like Martin Amis and so many dislike Martin Amis. He is such a skillful prose stylist that his stories can be as hard to put down as they are to finish because of his nasty characters and view of the world. No, I do not like these stories very much but I admire the skill that went into writing them. Different people will prefer different stories, of course, but I favor the first and third where the author tries to get us to see the world differently by simple switches: in the first story screenwriters live the lives of poets and poets live the lives of screen writers. In the third, being gay is normal and being straight is controversial. While these both seemed clever for a while, both stories continued long past the point where I got the point. I'm not sure either did much to change my thinking about either matter. In sum: if you like Martin Amis, have fun, but I don't think I need to bother with him again.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Esther

    Picked up a lovely 1st edition hardcover in perfect condition for next to nothing in a lovely second hand bookstore in South Haven, MI when we were on holiday a few months ago. So its a collection of short stories mostly written in the 90s and with a couple of real gems. When Amis is biting and funny he is head and shoulders above everyone else. The satire about the movie business, applied to a poetry - 'his f-cking sonnet did forty million opening weekend' is wicked. And the story about the 'St Picked up a lovely 1st edition hardcover in perfect condition for next to nothing in a lovely second hand bookstore in South Haven, MI when we were on holiday a few months ago. So its a collection of short stories mostly written in the 90s and with a couple of real gems. When Amis is biting and funny he is head and shoulders above everyone else. The satire about the movie business, applied to a poetry - 'his f-cking sonnet did forty million opening weekend' is wicked. And the story about the 'Straight District' in NY with the marginalised hetros campaigning for rights had just the right spot on details.

  12. 5 out of 5

    maria

    Martin Amis is a talented prose stylist with a nasty world view. The stories in this collection range from awful to meh, with occasional flashes of brilliance. They're not nearly as good as his novels, with many reading like an abandoned attempt at a longer piece. The best of the lot: - "Career Move" describes about a world in which poets are jet-setting Hollywood bigwigs while screenwriters are starving artists. - "Let Me Count the Ways" describes a man who has an affair with himself. - "Denton's Martin Amis is a talented prose stylist with a nasty world view. The stories in this collection range from awful to meh, with occasional flashes of brilliance. They're not nearly as good as his novels, with many reading like an abandoned attempt at a longer piece. The best of the lot: - "Career Move" describes about a world in which poets are jet-setting Hollywood bigwigs while screenwriters are starving artists. - "Let Me Count the Ways" describes a man who has an affair with himself. - "Denton's Death" is an hallucinatory, existential piece about a man who is waiting for the arrival of his executioners.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Aaron France

    Great stories, most are strong. Standing out above all others is "The Janitor from Mars". Great stories, most are strong. Standing out above all others is "The Janitor from Mars".

  14. 4 out of 5

    R.

    Features The Janitor From Mars wherein an abusive Martian robot communicates to a representative gathering of Earthlings precisely how little they matter in the grand scheme of things.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mark Desrosiers

    ... but the title story gets five stars ...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tim O'Leary

    Back cover: A New York Times Notable Book..."Amis applies his comic timing, his perfect pitch and his curatorial eye to some of the burning issues of our time." Like compulsive masturbation in the short "Let Me Count the Times." A burning issue to be sure. Horrible. In fact, much of the book is similarly styled with pretentiously elaborate portrayals of narcisistic indulgence by characters who are not the least-bit likable; dwelling completely in their self-absorbed poseurs' realm of pompous sop Back cover: A New York Times Notable Book..."Amis applies his comic timing, his perfect pitch and his curatorial eye to some of the burning issues of our time." Like compulsive masturbation in the short "Let Me Count the Times." A burning issue to be sure. Horrible. In fact, much of the book is similarly styled with pretentiously elaborate portrayals of narcisistic indulgence by characters who are not the least-bit likable; dwelling completely in their self-absorbed poseurs' realm of pompous sophistication and snobbery; many of them extensions of the inside world (Amis's world) of publishers, agents, minders and handlers for writers who are either trending upwards, or on their downward slide out, or wannabes put-off indefinitely with negligible courtesy, or consideration, being denied admission to these circles entirely. As if all this solipsistic droning isn't already off-putting enough as failed sarcasm, Amis pretends to amuse the reader with name games in "Career Move" and "Straight Fiction" while, in turn, bludgeoning one to blood beyond tears with a blathering of astrophysical absurdity ad nauseum spewing cosmological timelines of the "ultraverse" punctuated with low-style profanities (by a robot, no less) addressing a most-esteemed audience of emissaries from Earth (including Miss World) in "The Janitor on Mars." Finally, in "What Happened to Me on My Holiday" Amis intones a death-by-the-old-world-extraction using the most-hackneyed forced inflection, to whit: "Bud virzd I'd bedder zay: don'd banig! I'm nad zuvvering vram brain damage--or vram adenoids. And I gan wride bedder than thiz when I wand do. Bud I don't wand do. Nad vor now. Led me egsblain." This continues unmercifully as the narrator regails us, further, about his parents of English and "Amerigan" origin and how they/he "zbeeg divverendly" and how English to his grandfather was the "more najural voize." This was the last story (term used loosely) and, fittingly, the last straw. Couldn't continue to indulge this nonsense further. The Wall Street Journal (top-line front cover acclaim also in italics) calls Amis a "stone-solid genius." (!?!) If you take your cues from the likes of Rupert Murdoch's WSJ for what to read, then you might also want to glean from the "most-respected" critical literary reviews the best prospects for padding your equities portfolio. And good luck with that.

  17. 5 out of 5

    David Watson

    A great collection from a writer better known for his novels and non-fiction works. I liked it better than his only other short story volume, the readable but doom laden nuclear-apocalypse-or-threat-of-it-themed Einstein's Monsters. Most of the stories in Heavy Water originally appeared in magazines and so Amis had to make them tightly-written and lucid. The title story is absolutely harrowing - it deals with what was in the 1970s, the time of writing, something of a taboo topic: a mentally reta A great collection from a writer better known for his novels and non-fiction works. I liked it better than his only other short story volume, the readable but doom laden nuclear-apocalypse-or-threat-of-it-themed Einstein's Monsters. Most of the stories in Heavy Water originally appeared in magazines and so Amis had to make them tightly-written and lucid. The title story is absolutely harrowing - it deals with what was in the 1970s, the time of writing, something of a taboo topic: a mentally retarded/deaf mute man and how his ageing mother takes care of him. She takes him on a cruise and Amis brilliantly poses the tacky on-board entertainments against his mother's ongoing care and their interactions. Several of the stories are satirical and Amis cleverly directly reverses a couple of realities of our world to make comment on the real, un-inverted world. In one story, The Janitor on Mars, Amis goes all cosmic with a robot from Mars telling earthlings about the reality of the universe. I don't understand why he felt the need to combine this brilliant hyper-science fiction narrative with one about the goings-on in a sleazy boys' home - it would have been better without that. Overall an impressive, vivid set of stories but I just couldn't read the final one - What Happened to Me on my Holiday - because of the narrator's impenetrable accent.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Max

    Nine stories, all different in style, subject matter and tone. I liked most of them, ranging from deadly serious (Heavy Water, Denton's Death) to ironically serious (The Janitor on Mars) to a combination of seriousness and wit (What Happened to Me On My Holiday), to hilarious (Career Move, Let Me Count the Times, Straight Fiction). Nine stories, all different in style, subject matter and tone. I liked most of them, ranging from deadly serious (Heavy Water, Denton's Death) to ironically serious (The Janitor on Mars) to a combination of seriousness and wit (What Happened to Me On My Holiday), to hilarious (Career Move, Let Me Count the Times, Straight Fiction).

  19. 5 out of 5

    Edward Janes

    Collection of short stories written over a period of 20 years. Diverse in ranging from what almost seems a commentary on the problems with the book publishing industry, to an inverted world where most people are homosexual and being straight is frowned upon, to a strange scifi where we find out there is life on Mars

  20. 4 out of 5

    K

    Aaaaamis - he's like a dreadful home. The story "Let me Count the Times" about masturbation, obsession, selfishness, imagination, eroticism, joy, confusion, insecurity, pleasure, play, the inner world... I like the dirty, practical, and transcendent eroticism in his work a lot. It's hard to write about the seedyness and glory of sex right, and he nails it for me. Otherwise, I continue to love his sketchy depraved petty bumbling human characters, because that's what we all are. Aaaaamis - he's like a dreadful home. The story "Let me Count the Times" about masturbation, obsession, selfishness, imagination, eroticism, joy, confusion, insecurity, pleasure, play, the inner world... I like the dirty, practical, and transcendent eroticism in his work a lot. It's hard to write about the seedyness and glory of sex right, and he nails it for me. Otherwise, I continue to love his sketchy depraved petty bumbling human characters, because that's what we all are.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Karey

    Couldn't finish this collection of eminently missable short stories. Narcissistic, shallow characters that I didn't care one hoot about. The "Let me count the times" story could summarise the whole collection - about a man's obsession with himself/masturbation with an unconvincingly passively accepting wife to boot. One less book to put back in the bookcase! Couldn't finish this collection of eminently missable short stories. Narcissistic, shallow characters that I didn't care one hoot about. The "Let me count the times" story could summarise the whole collection - about a man's obsession with himself/masturbation with an unconvincingly passively accepting wife to boot. One less book to put back in the bookcase!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tom Dixon

    An interesting mix of short stories from Mr Amis. Selected from across many years with some of the older stories subjected to a bit of a tweak, this is a good collection with some weird and wonderful tales within.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Ihlenfeld

    Genius.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Maureen Mathews

    Very Martin Amisy, but not in a good way. Too much knowing, cynical smartarsery, too little compassion.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ralph

    Weird! Some great short stories and some that seemed pointless to me. The last story is a bit nuts, you have to get into character to read it! It's better that three stars but not quite four. Weird! Some great short stories and some that seemed pointless to me. The last story is a bit nuts, you have to get into character to read it! It's better that three stars but not quite four.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nick Moraitis

    Too dated for me in terms of the writing style. In addition I found most of these pretty dull - had no real interest in many of the charactera or their stories.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Shob

    I read a lot of short story compilations and anthologies. It gives me a taste of different authors and wider range of genres to chew on. I read two anthologies concurrently these past weeks. One was better than the other. This collection by Martin Amis, a British writer, was not the better one. There was not a single common narrative or theme throughout this assorted collection, other than the fact that the stories were based in England. It touched on topics such as relationship, marriage, femini I read a lot of short story compilations and anthologies. It gives me a taste of different authors and wider range of genres to chew on. I read two anthologies concurrently these past weeks. One was better than the other. This collection by Martin Amis, a British writer, was not the better one. There was not a single common narrative or theme throughout this assorted collection, other than the fact that the stories were based in England. It touched on topics such as relationship, marriage, feminism and even the act of writing itself - but it proved dry, and at most times, felt tedious. There was even an entire story about an accountant's penchant for wanking himself (i'm not kidding) that was just bad through and through. Even the language / style used varied from standard queen's English to local dialects and slangs, and the last one was just a made up language (something like speaking with a blocked nose as in what the comedian Benny Hill used to do). I guess Mr Amis found it funny, but i doubt anyone else would. Frankly, i could hardly relate to any of the characters or stories here because the basic flair of writing a decent conversation is missing. Everything proved to be either truncated, or just blown out of portion. Only the lead story - Heavy Water - slotted in almost towards the end of the book proved bearable. But one gem does not a crown make. Sigh. I found this in a bargain bin, and i hate to say this, i'll probably return it there. It's safe to say it would be a long time before i pick up another book by Amis. ~ Shob

  28. 4 out of 5

    M.C.

    Heavy Water And Other Stories is an intriguing collection of short stories written by British writer Martin Amis. The basic theme that links these stories to one another is a focus on British culture either through character or through the setting. Of the nine short stories in Heavy Water And Other Stories, "Denton's Death" is the most mysterious. A synopsis of the story would suffice to tell one of the tale of a man who claims that a figure named "the leader" and his accomplices will come to co Heavy Water And Other Stories is an intriguing collection of short stories written by British writer Martin Amis. The basic theme that links these stories to one another is a focus on British culture either through character or through the setting. Of the nine short stories in Heavy Water And Other Stories, "Denton's Death" is the most mysterious. A synopsis of the story would suffice to tell one of the tale of a man who claims that a figure named "the leader" and his accomplices will come to conclude the final and dystopian chapters of his life. Throughout the story, little is revealed about "the leader" or the general concept of the conflict. As the story progresses, the physical and mental health of the narrator deteriorates like his rundown home. On this matter of the deterioration of principles and care, "Denton's Death" is almost like Fightclub. Heavy Water And Other Stories is a read that is modern enough for the an adolescent reader yet universal to all readers in that it discusses social morals that exist in one form or another within all societies.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kirstie

    This barely gets the 3/5 stars I am giving it and I am really starting to think Martin Amis is a little over-rated. One thing I can definitely say is that I have enjoyed his novels more. There are only two stories I found to be 4/5 star quality and the rest were more like 2/5. Those two stories were the title story and "The Coincidence of the Arts." At times ,one senses that Martin Amis is trying to be creative and a little twisted but ends up missing the mark and creating stories that detach th This barely gets the 3/5 stars I am giving it and I am really starting to think Martin Amis is a little over-rated. One thing I can definitely say is that I have enjoyed his novels more. There are only two stories I found to be 4/5 star quality and the rest were more like 2/5. Those two stories were the title story and "The Coincidence of the Arts." At times ,one senses that Martin Amis is trying to be creative and a little twisted but ends up missing the mark and creating stories that detach the reader from the characters. At other times , the story just isn't unique enough to hold interest. Basically, this is a fairly short collection at just a little over 205 pages that I read on the plane to California last night that was overall disappointing and made me wish I had chosen a different book to bring with me instead . I will have to add a couple of quotes to this when I get back to Chicago .

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Martin Amis is someone I don’t think I would go to a party with. His stories can make you laugh or cry but are individual in style and outlook. Never have I read any other author that you can’t put in a shoebox. I will not always love the stories but that’s because they don’t all head down the same path. All these comments sound a bit cheap and thrown out there but why tell you I loved one story and not another? I have now read 11 books by Amis and the best comment to make is I shall keep readin Martin Amis is someone I don’t think I would go to a party with. His stories can make you laugh or cry but are individual in style and outlook. Never have I read any other author that you can’t put in a shoebox. I will not always love the stories but that’s because they don’t all head down the same path. All these comments sound a bit cheap and thrown out there but why tell you I loved one story and not another? I have now read 11 books by Amis and the best comment to make is I shall keep reading his books. I can understand why some hate his inventive style and views but I find it all so different from other authors. You never know what you’re going to get other than new and varied.

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