The War Against Cliche : Essays and Reviews 1971-2000, Paperback Book

The War Against Cliche : Essays and Reviews 1971-2000 Paperback

4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Like John Updike, Martin Amis is the pre-eminent novelist-critic of his generation.

The War Against Cliche is a selection of his reviews and essays over the past quarter-century.

It contains pieces on Cervantes, Milton, Donne, Coleridge, Jane Austen, Dickens, Kafka, Philip Larkin, Joyce, Waugh, Lowry, Nabokov, F.

R. Leavis, V. S. Pritchett, William Burroughs, Anthony Burgess, Angus Wilson, Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Shiva and V.

S. Naipaul, Kurt Vonnegut, Iris Murdoch, Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal, Don DeLillo, Elmore Leonard, Michael Crichton, Thomas Harris - and John Updike.

Other subjects include chess, nuclear weapons, masculinity, screen censorship, juvenile violence, Andy Warhol, Hillary Clinton, and Margaret Thatcher.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Literary essays
  • ISBN: 9780099422228

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

I found the essay about the democratization of the art of literary criticism most interesting. Amis points out that since no objective standards of writing seems to hold water; criticism is reduced to subjective like & not- like; Anyone can join the choir on the same terms, whether they have learnt their score or not. Since he himself does not use the occasion to broadcast an (academic) opinion on this theme, I can only surmise that a) he has not solved the puzzlement of literary standard himself despite living off literary criticism as a professional or b) he has not the guts to go against the tide of what is political correct. Both alternatives leaves the literary criticism he presents in the book on different works slightly less interesting..... The most valuable about this book is that the folly of value relativism - or should I say - human vanity - is put to discussion. We need to know what is good from what is bad, to keep on being human.

Review by

Martin Amis is that rarest of breeds: equally skilled in the worlds of both fiction and non. This collection of essays and book reviews is a great example of a writer using his exhaustive vocabulary to good effect - he chooses precisely the right word for any given situation, and you are never likely to feel that a particular word has been chosen through arrogance.

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