At the age of ten, when Martin Amis spent a year in Princeton, New Jersey, he was excited and frightened by America. As an adult he has approached that confusing country from many arresting angles, and interviewed its literati, filmmakers, thinkers, opinion makers, leaders and crackpots with characteristic discernment and wit.
Included in a gallery of Great American Novelists are Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal, Truman Capote, Joseph Heller, William Burroughs, Kurt Vonnegut, John Updike, Paul Theroux, Philip Roth and Saul Bellow. Amis also takes us to Dallas, where presidential candidate Ronald Reagan is attempting to liaise with born-again Christians. We glimpse the beau monde of Palm Beach, where each couple tries to out-Gatsby the other, and examine the case of Claus von Bulow. Steven Spielberg gets a visit, as does Brian de Palma, whom Amis asks why his films make no sense, and Hugh Hefner’s sybaritic fortress and sanitised image are penetrated.
There can be little that escapes the eye of Martin Amis when his curiosity leads him to a subject, and America has found in him a superlative chronicler.