More Lad Than Bad

White_1-062410_jpg_230x408_q85Edmund White reviews Martin Amis' The Pregnant Widow, in the NYRB:

The Pregnant Widow begins as a beautifully poised, patient comedy of manners, in the tradition of the nineteenth- century English novels that Martin Amis’s college-age hero, Keith Nearing, is reading; then, in the last third, the narrative skips ahead and thins out and speeds up and starts to destroy itself joyously, like one of Jean Tinguely’s self-wrecking sculptures—or like civilization itself in the twenty-first century. It’s as if As You Like It, after carefully staging explorations of love and gender in a sylvan setting, were to knock itself out in a violent, messy, urban free-for-all right out of Animal House. In this respect alone I was reminded of Gravity’s Rainbow, in which the main theme, entropy, causes the book itself to give up on being, intermittently, a fairly traditional historical novel about World War II and to go to pieces, to run down, and the main character, Slothrop, to vanish.