Inside Story

Inside Story

By Martin Amis
560 pages
October 2020


“The Mick Jagger of literature . . . Amis is the most dazzling prose stylist in post-war British fiction.” —Mick Brown, The Daily Telegraph

“[A] charismatic compound of fact and fiction . . . Martin Amis has retained the power to surprise.” —Parul Sehgal, The New York Times

From one of the most highly acclaimed writers at work today: his most intimate and epic work yet--an autobiographical novel of sex and love, family and friendship.

This novel had its birth in the death of Martin Amis's closest friend, the incomparable Christopher Hitchens, and it is within that profound and sprawling friendship that Inside Story unfurls. From their early days as young magazine staffers in London, reviewing romantic entanglements and the latest literary gossip (not to mention ideas, books, and where to lunch), Hitch was Amis's wingman and adviser, especially in the matter of the alluringly amoral Phoebe Phelps--an obsession Amis must somehow put behind him if he is ever to find love, marriage, a plausible run at happiness.

Other figures competing as Amis's main influencers are his literary fathers—Kingsley, of course; his hero Saul Bellow; the weirdly self-finessing poet Philip Larkin—and his significant literary mothers, including Iris Murdoch and Elizabeth Jane Howard. Moving among these greats to set his own path, Amis's quest is a tender, witty exploration of the hardest questions: how to live, how to grieve, and how to die. In search of his answers, he surveys the horrors of the twentieth century, and the still-unfolding impact of the 9/11 attacks on the twenty-first--and considers what all of this has taught him about how to be a writer.

The result is a love letter to life--and to the people in his life--that achieves a new level of confidentiality with his readers, giving us the previously unseen portrait of his extraordinary world.

“A five-course meal of a book—with frequent palate cleansers of Amis-bouches. It’s a memoir tucked inside an endearingly discursive novel.” —David Friend, Vanity Fair (“The 15 Best Books of 2020”)

“The great lines come flying at you, as always, volleyed out of the cleft of the book and into the magic space beneath your raised eyebrows . . . and there are good jokes, too . . . [Amis] wants to lance the moment with language, and he wants his language to live forever . . . I put the book down in a mood of deep and disquieted self-consideration. How do I measure up to all this? Not the writing, but the level of perception, the level of interrogation, the level of work, the level of living. And then the mood passed, and as a reader I felt—like an absolution—the gaze of the author, and his understanding. That’s greatness. That lasts.” —James Parker, The Atlantic

“Warm, generous and deeply moving, whether on the subject of fatherhood, love or friendship (particularly with Christopher Hitchens). This is not only the best book Amis has written in years; it is up there with Money and London Fields as the finest work he’s produced.” —Alex Preston, The Observer