house of meetings: more bilious colors


For all its incidental comic felicities, a reader could finish reading Martin Amis’s Yellow Dog (2003) feeling that too much had been sacrificed to the jokes; it is not that Amis’s distinctive gifts have ever been self-effacing ones, but there were moments in that book when the world was being just too deliberately shrunk to fit the satire’s demands. Darius the “seven-foot Seventh Day Adventist” couldn’t be six-foot-eleven, or indeed five-foot-six, just as Clint Smoker had to live in the geographically impractical location of Foulness – not in the interests of plot or character, but in order to feed the punchline. To move from such Technicolor knock-about to the sombre grey-scale in which House of Meetings lives is to encounter an almost completely different author, to negotiate a shift between moral worlds as well as palettes.

more from the TLS here.