Martin Amis weighs "State of England" from new U.S. home

Mon Aug 27, 2012 1:40pm EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Devotees of British novelist Martin Amis anxiously awaiting his fictional commentary on the state of America after his move to U.S. shores shouldn't hold their breath.

It will take time for the acclaimed author, who moved to the United States six months ago, to dig into U.S. culture the way he has in his satirical new novel, "Lionel Asbo: State of England."

Although he is certain of at least one thing in these days of fiscal austerity: He does not understand why some Americans want less taxes for the rich.

"Lionel Asbo" once again illustrates the author's insight into modern Britain as he explores his country's working-class citizens, a vacuous tabloid media and declining morality reflected in celebrity culture.

It was written before the author of "Money," "London Fields" and other celebrated novels abandoned London for an idyllic writer's haven in Brooklyn, and Amis said he has yet to distill his thoughts about America's own class warfare and obsession with celebrity.

"It has different kinds of vulgarity -- the English more sordid, the American more glitzy and cosmetic, kitsch," the 62-year-old said under the high ceilings of his new home. "My wife insists it is not very much (different)...but I am not so sure."

Amis, often called one of the most innovative voices of his generation, has himself long been subjected to scrutiny by the British media.

Most recently, critics have said his decision to leave London reflected spite, rather than his publicly stated reason of needing to be close to his wife's mother and his late friend, writer Christopher Hitchens.   Continued...

Novelist Martin Amis (L) talks to Tina Brown at the launch of Brown's book "The Diana Chronicles" at a party hosted by Reuters in the Serpentine Gallery in central London, June 18, 2007. REUTERS/Paul Hackett