Bonkers in The Balkans: I Hate Martin Amis Et Al by Peter Barry

on Thursday, June 16, 2011
You've got to have pretty big cojones to call your first book "I Hate Martin Amis Et Al", especially if you are an unknown Aussie writer. So kudos to Peter Barry on that. You sir, have come up with the best title for a book in years. But you have, in borrowing the once great author's name, also set yourself a very big challenge. Will it be Money or, God forbid, Yellow Dog? Natural aversion to Australian writing aside, I'm glad to say it is very much the former. Milan Zorec is one extremely fucked up guy. A failed novelist, he joins Mladic's army during the 1995 Balkan War (yes, timely, I know), not out of any ideological Serbian inclinations but to experience something original, something publishers cannot say they've seen before. While hiding in his sniper's nest, he indulges in fantasies of revenge against publishers and literary agents who have passed him over, reliving one particular incident that crushed his spirit with an odd mix of nostalgia and malice. With its rumination on the state of modern literature, some fairly successful lampooning of the brighter literary lights, and a terrifying glimpse into a conflict that is only beginning to get the attention it deserves from the book world, I Hate Martin Amis Et Al is an excellent, twisted novel.


Lisa Hill said...

Just curious, why do you have a 'natural aversion' to OzLit?

The Bookworm said...

I wish I had a good answer... I think it's some kind of cultural cringe that was drilled into me at school thanks to the godawful Australian books they forced down our throats. I have been slowly trying to rectify this and am now a lot more amenable to reading Australian authors (perhaps the realisation that, should I ever publish, I too will become one had something to do with it). Interestingly, when I reread my set school texts last year, I realised that a couple of them were really great (The Harp in The South stands out in particular).

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