Using Bees To Effect Vengeance

I get to be as self-indulgent as I want without wasting anyone's time. Guilt-free solipsism -- excellent!

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Sunday, August 24, 2003
"Dickens with a snarl": Yellow Dog by Martin Amis

Let's hope this review from The Observer is more indicative of the novel's quality.

"Your first reaction on reading a novel as mind-tinglingly good as Yellow Dog is not so much admiration as a kind of grateful despair. Mostly this is because, like all great writers, he seems to have guessed what you thought about the world, and then expressed it far better than you ever could."

And while the novel is not about the post-Atta era, Amis unsurprisingly appears to engage with some of the fallout of 9/11:

"What motivates all these stories is the itch of vengeance: the 'circular arguments' of reprisal, and 'the misery of recurrence' that threatens to reverse personal and cultural development. What knits them together is the way that vengeance emerges as a pathological version of the ordinary human need for reciprocity and exchange...."

"The itch of vengeance" is certainly manifest in the events of September 11th, and many of the the subsequent personal, political and cultural reactions to it from people and institutions around the world threaten to join it in "reversing personal and cultural development". That itch is presently being scratched by parties operating in Baghdad, Jerusalem, Monrovia, Kandahar, Austin, Sacramento, and Washington D.C. I'm looking forward to Amis's explorations of the phenomenon.


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