In honor of Stephany’s Beckett for Babies, this surreal excerpt from Martin Amis’ memoir, Experience. This scene happens during a time of great Amis toothache:
My mouth talks too much. Only a week earlier my mouth had soured a New Yorker dinner at the Caprice in London by indulging in this “exchange” with Salman Rushdie:
So you like Beckett?s prose, do you? You like Beckett’s prose.
Having established earlier that he did like Beckett’s prose, Salman neglected to answer.
Okay. Quote me some. Oh I see. You can’t.
No answer: only the extreme hooded-eye treatment. Richard Avedon would need a studio’s worth of lights and reflectors to rig up this expression on an unsuspecting Salman. At that moment, though, a passing waiter with an Instamatic could have easily bettered it. Nobody spoke. Not even Christopher Hitchens. [!-ed.]
And I really do hate Beckett’s prose: every sentence is an assault on my ear. So I said:
Well I’ll do it for you. All you need is maximum ugliness and a lot of negatives. “Nor it the nothing never is.” “Neither nowhere the nothing is not.” “Non-nothing the never ”
Feeling my father in me now (as well as the couple of hundred glasses of wine consumed at the party we had all come on from), I settled down for a concerted goad and wheedle. By this stage Salman looked like a falcon staring through a venetian blind.
“No neither nor never none not no”
Do you want to come outside?
End of evening. My mouth wasn’t any good at knowing when to stop.
Stephany Aulenback will be here tomorrow, Friday. Egg her on about Beckett, why don’t you? She goes ape, Christopher Hitchens goes mum, and it’s fisticuffs all around.
Thanks to everyone who read this week, and especially to Maud. Next week I’m launching a site where I’m going to try to play more with theme-related posts as a way of reading the fuck out of books. The first week/fortnight/month will either be Amis or the Brontes. Right now the site’s all sawhorses and scaffolding, so Maud will direct you to the spot Monday. I hope you’ll stop by.