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The writer Martin Amis, who died last week at the age of 73, was a towering figure of English literature. Practically born into the limelight, as the son of the celebrated British novelist Kingsley Amis, he secured his own fame in 1973 with the publication of his novel “The Rachel Papers,” and for the next half century went on to produce a scintillating body of ambitious, raucous, witty and stylish works of fiction and literary journalism distinguished by their cutting intelligence and virtuosic prose.
On this week’s podcast, Gilbert Cruz talks with The Times’s critics Dwight Garner (who wrote Amis’s obituary for the paper) and Jason Zinoman (who co-hosts a podcast devoted to Amis’s career, “The Martin Chronicles”) about the life and death of a remarkable figure.
Amis was “arguably the most slashing, articulate, devastatingly clear, pungent writer of the last 25 years of the past century and the first almost 25 of this century,” Garner says. “If you’re in a room with writers, he is often the one that writers are envious of. Just his way with words, his descriptions, the fact that he scorned cliché, scorned outdated language. In my own life as a writer, there are very few writers — of course I’m not a fiction writer, but I study writing — there are only a handful of writers that I think of in the category that Martin Amis is in, which is, if I’m stuck on a piece or I’ve just written a bad sentence, I think: Would Martin Amis ever let this sentence go to print? Not that I can hope to match his sentences, but I hope not to sink to this level where, don’t do that because Martin Amis wouldn’t do it.”
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