That Summer in Italy

From The New York Times:

Carter-t_CA0-popup For someone who grew up in a not particularly exciting city in Canada — yes, yes, that was a joke — the sexual revolution was something that happened to someone else, somewhere else, most probably in that enchanted, faraway Gomorrah called the United States. I had certainly read about the sexual revolution in magazines like Time, and I was nothing if not eager to take it beyond the theoretical. But the knock on the door never came, and when I left for the rough-and-tumble of New York in the 1970s, I was still waiting for the sexual rebellionto conscript me into its welcoming bosom. We could chat on and on about the dating­ habits of my beloved homeland — where even post-­marital sex was gently frowned on — but there is a book to review here. And it is written by Martin Amis, a British foot soldier on the pulsing, sweaty front lines of that era’s social sexual upheaval. To Amis, London was a petri dish of sexual experimentation. In his new novel, “The Pregnant Widow” he says that sex was everywhere, and that the turning point in the whole affair arrived when girls became sexual aggressors who could pursue their desires and enjoy “the tingle of license” just like their male counterparts. Yes, just like guys, minus the pleading.

To discuss a Martin Amis book, you must first discuss the orchestrated release of a Martin Amis book. In London, which rightly prides itself on the vibrancy of its literary cottage industry, Amis is the Steve Jobs of book promoters, and his product rollouts are as carefully managed as anything ­Apple dreams up. The Amis campaigns tend to follow a rough pattern. In the first wave are interviews in the broadsheets: The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Observer and so forth. Amis is photographed or described doing laddish things like playing darts, shooting billiards and drinking in the middle of the day. Names are dropped: Christopher Hitchens, James Fenton, Ian McEwan, Clive James, Philip Larkin and Julian Barnes, with whom Amis had a very public falling-out some years ago.

More here.