The New York Times sometimes does things just because it can, as Drew Magary of Gawker noted in his nuanced, thoughtful “The New York Times Styles Section Profiled The Brant Brothers Because The New York Times Hates You.” (Really you should read it, even though you will find out who the Brant brothers are, and All Will Be Lost. Also, Faye Dunaway.) So maybe the New York Times was briefly diverted from its mission to reported on all the news and cetera, to do something just to mess with us.
Many of you may have worried that literary Brooklyn wasn’t macho enough, what with all the female authors, and the important female editors, and all the attention paid to ladyissues, and all those memoirs you heard about from those women who read comic books when they were kids in Brooklyn and then something something. Let me tell you: Martin Amis just pulled your fat out of the fire, who doggie! He’s mannin’ up the borough right and left! He gestures out the window of his brownstone “Out there, it’s Arcadian,” he said. “It’s prelapsarian. It’s like living in the ’50s.”
You know what I love about the ‘50s? The rigid racial apartheid. That’s the best part, seriously. Oh, shit, no—I messed up—the crippling sexism and hatred of homosexuality. No, no—goddamnit! I’m going back to the rigid racial apartheid thing I said just now. That’s the best. It’s like having 3 favorite flavors of evil! That’s why the ‘50s are so tempting and delicious: just far enough away to see recognizable humans betraying their dearest in the service of ideology, just close enough that you know they knew better.
Mr. Amis almost won my heart with his movie choices here in the middle of the article (for a literary festival): “Mr. Amis chose “The Godfather,” “The Wild Bunch,” “Raging Bull” and “Blade Runner,” and got things rolling by saying, in his opinion, no good movies were made before 1966.” I like ridiculous aesthetic judgments with a grain of truth.
One begins to think someone at the NYT has a bit of an inkling when they put this on the same page as a picture of the man playing tennis. (As a young man; they’re not being dicks.)
At a certain point Mr. Amis unwedged himself and slipped out to smoke a cigarette on the sidewalk, looking vaguely menacing under a street lamp. “I’ve sort of hung out with a few thugs all my life,” he said later. “I love thugs. I’m keen on them.”
It is more or less impossible to look manly playing tennis unless you are Rafeal Nadal and you are about to win at Roland Garros. I don’t fault Mr. Amis on this. I look like a fool when I play tennis, I’m pretty sure.
It’s also just a bad idea to love thugs. They hit people. In the face, even. Maybe especially in the face. It’s extra manly to show up at lunch with a black eye that you got in a drunken fight when you have an actual penis, but the ladies have to stay home till they look presentable. The close of the article is rather elegiac, if one is inclined to be particularly moved by the thought that death comes for Martin Amis, rather than for all of us, which latter is usually sufficient to sharpen the mind.