Gulag days

By JAMES PARKER  |  January 17, 2007

To be young and comfortable in America, as is the daughter to whom these reminiscences are addressed, is for the narrator to be as much the servant of an ideology as any Communist apparatchik: “Oh, it’s a mild ideology, I agree (mildness is its one idea). Nobody’s going to blow themselves to bits for it.” Ideologies produce their clichés (the narrator practically expires with indignation, for example, when his daughter helpfully suggests that he seek “closure”), and clichés are blind spots, places where you can get hit before you’ve seen what’s coming. For other ideologies, as we are learning too late, people are more than happy to blow themselves to bits. Read late Amis — maniacally alert, secular in timbre but religious in the fidelity of his observations — and stay on your toes.

MARTIN AMIS reads from House of Meetings | Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St, Cambridge | January 31, 6 pm | $3 | 617.661.1515

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