After several years of flirting with its yellow cover, I've just finished London Fields. As big, hulking, dark novels go, Amis' must be up there.
At its core, London Fields is a book about sex and the ways that language can mirror the act. I think there's an argument to be made that Amis' writing - in its muscular, writhing way - intimates the mounting sexual tension wrapped up in this novel. When the climax hits, Amis' prose reach a sort of pinnacle. It's interesting to note that the concluding chapters - those which chart the period after the climax - struggle to recreate the intensity of the earlier sections of the book.
This effect reminded me a bit of Henry Miller's work, but only to a point. Amis' novel seems more preoccupied with the future than do Miller's. Plus, Amis' book is more literary. And by that I mean it's more self-consciously literary. There are masks and references and linguistic experiments everywhere in London Fields. Miller does this too, but his commitment was never to plot - and Amis generates his themes and foils in conjunction with the development of his characters. Without Nicola Six, there's no London Fields. There's no nothing.
Ultimately, what I'll remember most about Amis' novel is its velocity. Over the course of more than 400 pages, he maintains an unyielding stylistic intensity. There are passages in this book that rival the great writers of the past 50 years in both their burliness and absurdity.
And by absurdity, I mean, in the case of Amis, honesty.