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eBook House of Meetings download


eBook House of Meetings download ISBN: 030738666X
Publisher: VINTAGE (January 1, 2006)
Language: English
ePub: 1819 kb
Fb2: 1568 kb
Rating: 4.8
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Category: Literature
Subcategory: Genre Fiction

3. The War Between the Brutes and the Bitches. It was with some ceremony, I remember, that I showed my younger brother the place where he would entertain his bride. They’d been married for eight years.

3. 5. Among the Shiteaters. PART II. 1. Dudinka, September 2, 2004. But this would be their first night together as husband and wif. ou head north from the zona, and after half a mile you strike off to the left and climb the steep little lane and the implausible flight of old stone steps, and there it is: beyond, on the slope of Mount Schweinsteiger, the two-story chalet called the House of Meetings

Home Martin Amis House of Meetings. House of meetings, .

Home Martin Amis House of Meetings. Many hours had gone into this, and many hands.

House of Meetings book. House of Meetings reminded me of what I subconsciously knew and will always know - that Amis was the best British writer of his generation and the most exciting literary sorcerer there has ever been. Jul 19, 2012 John Swift rated it did not like it. The is the second, and last, I think, Martin Amis book I shall read.

Martin Amis's new book takes the form of a novella and two stories. The novella "House of Meetings" is a love story, gothic in timbre and triangular in shape

Martin Amis's new book takes the form of a novella and two stories. The novella "House of Meetings" is a love story, gothic in timbre and triangular in shape. Two brothers and a Jewish girl fall into alignment in the pogrom-poised Moscow of 1946; and the fraternal conflict then marinates in Norlag, a slave-labour camp above the Arctic Circle. Accompanied by one of the 'muscle' Saudis, Muhammad Atta drove to Portland, Maine, on September 10, 2001. No one knows why. In "The Last Days of Muhammad Atta", Martin Amis provides a rationale for Atta's insouciant detour, and for other lacunae in the 'planes operation'.

The son of the comic novelist Kingsley Amis, Martin Amis explores his relationship with this father and writes about the various crises of Kingsley's life

by Martin Amis The son of the comic novelist Kingsley Amis, Martin Amis explores his relationship with this father and writes about the various crises of Kingsley's life. He also examines the life and legacy of his cousin, Lucy Partington, who was abducted and murdered.

House of Meetings," it promises, "is about one such liaison", the triangular romance of two brothers and the .

House of Meetings," it promises, "is about one such liaison", the triangular romance of two brothers and the Jewess they love.

Statistics, Silence, Necessity The graph consists of two lines that toil their way from left to right pes upward. They converged in 1992. Thereafter the line of life drops sharply, and the line of death as sharply climbs. It looks like a three-year-old’s attempt to draw the back half of a whale or a shark: the broad torso narrows to nothing, then flairs into the tailfin.

Martin Amis’s new novel, House of Meetings, tackles the same sobering material his 2002 nonfiction book Koba the Dread did: Stalin’s slave labor camps and the atrocities committed by the government during the failed Soviet experiment.

Comments: (7)
In this beautifully written and mesmerizing book Amis creates the autobiography of a Russian man, a Jew, who has had the enormous misfortune to be born in the late 1920s: old enough to have endured Stalin's purges, old enough to have served as a soldier in WWII (with enough harrowing memories to merit an entire book of its own), old enough to be sentenced to a Siberian camp in the late 1940s as a political prisoner (again, almost a book in itself), and old enough to return to the "new Russia" and amass a fortune. In other words, the history of Russia over the past 75 years, through the eyes of a bitter survivor.

The narrative is in the form of a letter to the writer's niece, who has escaped Russia to live comfortably in Chicago. He is trying to explain what makes Russia so different from the rest of the world, and why its people are so deformed when judged by Western standards. In recent years I've dabbled in reading about contemporary Russia, which requires some knowledge of its history, and I found this tale to be chillingly and compellingly true. I've come to see Russia as a unique entity: large enough to have absorbed both Western and Asian influences to become an amalgam of the two cultures and thus a mystery to the rest of world, earning Churchill's famous sobriquet.

This book is not for the faint of heart; some of the scenes are truly nightmarish. Near the end the narrator tells us that in 1992 the Russian death rate eclipsed the birth rate and it became a dying country, doomed to nonexistence within 50 years. Some 70% of all pregnancies end in abortions and the childbirth and childhood mortality rates rivals the worst of Third-World countries. The will to live, belief in a future, is gone.

In its bleakness, however, one finds through the anonymous -- and perhaps sometimes unreliable -- narrator a love of life, and determination to shape that life whatever the obstacles. His anonymity makes him a Russian everyman, for good and bad. This is an amazing book in its ability to both tell the epochal story of contemporary Russia as well as that of one man trying to survive some of the 20th century's greatest horrors.
I really liked this book. The prose is very sharp, well observed, precise. There's none (well, less) of the redundancy and mad ranting which marred some of Amis' previous works. It's tighter, more focused. Granted, it's not for everybody. It is snarky, bitchy (or whatever the British-male equivalent), and rather sexist. I'm put off by its casual attitude toward rape as an issue of cultural relativity, for instance. And Zoya, the beautiful, character-less sex goddess the brothers are both drawn to, seems nothing but typical male fantasy, which I suppose is sort of the idea. Still, as a focused study of the effects of changing times on people's lives this book is masterfully rendered. For me, though, what was most enjoyable is the language itself--the feel of the words, their rhythm and music.
The House of Meetings is a narrative delivered as a long letter from an unnamed narrator, an 86-year-old Russian man, to his step-daughter Venus, living in Chicago. He is in the midst of traveling back home after many years in the U.S. The point of his journey is to revisit a work camp in the Artic where he had been held prisoner and slave laborer in the 40s and 50s. Particularly, he wants to visit the "house of meetings," where, late in the labor camp era, the Soviets had begun allowing some prisoners to meet briefly with their wives. The narrator's brother, Lev, with whom he shared most of his prison years, had been able to meet with his wife Zoya there on one occasion. Something occurred during the meeting that changed Lev's life for the worse, and the narrator's has yearned to know the details, partly out of perverse curiosity since he was also in love with Zoya--or rather in lust with her--and partly out of a need to understand what happened to all Russian men in the 20th century. Whatever happened to Russian men, the narrator comes to believe, resulted in the "Russian cross," the intersection of the national birth rate, ever-declining, and the death rate, ever climbing.

On his journey the narrator carries a letter in his pocket from Lev, which he has kept for many years but has never read. It was sent to him by Lev's second wife after his death and it explains what happened in the house of meetings. Now, late in his life, the narrator is finally preparing himself to read the letter, after which he has made arrangements to be euthanized by lethal injection.

The narrator has been called an anti-hero by other critics, wholly unlikable, if not evil. He had been in the "rapist Russian army" during the Second World War and lost his virginity in a ditch raping a housewife and went on this way across Eastern Europe. He says the devastating effects of rape on women may be well-known, but not much is said about what it does to the rapist. Amis likes to challenge our sensibilities by asking us to have empathy for such a man. Since The House of Meetings is written in first-person a certain degree of empathy is assured. The narrator is admirably honest, if a little too dry, about his crimes--against women, against humanity. He is not only a rapist but a murderer, having taken part in a mass riot in prison, killing three informers. He admits with some shame to getting an erection during the act. Lev, in contrast, is a pacifist, and while in prison, he never succumbs to that group thinking, madness, which may be rare in individuals, but, as Nietzsche pointed out, is typical in crowds. Thinking with the crowd may be the deep fault of the Soviet--perhaps even the Russian--mentality, so argues the narrative.

So what did happen to Lev in the house of meetings? The contents of the letter are finally revealed, but I am not certain I comprehend fully their meaning. There are passages in this sometimes obscure narrative that made me have a few Ashbery moments. I could understand the words, but wasn't sure who so-and-so was or what sort of connotations were being made. I'm not uncomfortable with some degree of confusion. The narrative is, after all, written to someone who is, presumably, more familiar with the people and events described, while I, as the reader, am not. This lends a degree of verisimilitude to the narrative of an overheard conversation, which is what The House of Meetings is. What happened to Lev, I think, is that he saw himself as a slave, not a man, and with the loss of his humanity, he lost his confidence, and later his sexual appetite for Zoya. The loss of interest in sex is loss of interest in life. After being released from camp, the homely Lev joins his beautiful and doting wife but he cannot muster the affection for her that she deserves. This is the one time that Lev seems, to the narrator, to succumb to that Russian collective mind, joining the nation's men in deep despair. Lev later recovers and marries Lydia, with whom he has a son, but when that young son is killed, Lev promptly reverts to despair; all his vital organs begin closing down and he dies.

The letter was written prior to the death of Lev's son, so its tone isn't affected by that impending tragedy. In a less despairing mind, Lev advises his brother to get a family around him, as he had. Lev also reveals to his older brother that he regarded him as a hero. Handsome, strong and fierce enough to make wild dogs cower, he protected Lev when they were boys and later when they were in prison. He broke arms for Lev, perhaps killed for him, which gave Lev the luxury of being a pacifist. In the letter Lev pays due respect to his brother's strength--pure brute force though it was.

Amis' ability to create empathy for this narrator is commendable. And he does not stoop to sentimentality. The empathy one feels comes with great discomfort. Early in the novel, addressing his stepdaughter directly the narrator self-consciously notes,

"I realize you must be jerking back from the page about three times per paragraph. And it isn't just the unvarying morbidity of my theme, and my general poor performance, which is due to deteriorate still further. No, I mean my readiness to assert and conclude--my appetite for generalizations. Your crowd, they're so terrorstricken by generalizations that they can't manage a declarative sentence. 'I went to the store? To buy orange juice?' That's right, keep it tentative--even though it's already happened....
A generalization might sound like an attempt to stereotype--and we can't have that. I'm at the other end. I worship generalizations. And the more sweeping the better. I am ready to kill for the sweeping generalizations. The name of your ideology, in case anyone asks, is Westernism. It would be no use to you here."

We can hear the honesty but also the irony, and these are not necessarily in conflict. When the narrator disembarks from his ship on Artic soil, he describes the port city in a passage which shows Amis' great talent imbuing physical objects and place with thought. The shipyard "comes alive," to be a bit trite about it, but importantly it reflects the narrator's own state of mind as a causality of war, slavery, mass rape, and utopianism. The port city is

"a Mars of rust, in various hues and concentrations. Some of the surfaces have dimmed to a modest apricot, losing their barnacle and asperities. Elsewhere, it looks like arterial blood, newly shed, newly dried. The rust boils and bristles, and the keel of the upended ferryboat glares out across the water with personalized fury, as if oxidation were a crime it would lay at your door. ...I think I've got it [icophobia, fear of rust]. The condition doesn't strike me, now, as at all ridiculous--or at all irrational. Rust is the failure of the work of man. The project, the venture, the experiment: failed, given up on, and not cleaned up after."

At some point later the narrator muses over the idea that Russians weren't given or didn't take the opportunity to admit to their crimes and suffer for them, as a means of absolution. They never had the luxury of recovering. This little bit of writing about the shipyard functions like a Spenserian ornament reflecting in miniature a theme, which is repeated with variations throughout the novel. Amis is a master at this.

When I read the "revelation" of the letter at the end of the novel I was disappointed--or thought I had just missed something--because it didn't seem to be much of a revelation. It told me nothing new. On reflection, however, I can appreciate it as yet another restatement of the theme that develops throughout the texture of the narrative itself. Every line and word of this impressive novel reflects the image of the "Russian cross." While this may not do much for the dramatic force of the novel, it is an absolutely beautiful, musical way to for Amis to resolve, with a satisfying final chord, the variations on his theme.
I often have a difficult time getting into novels in which the protagonist is not a hero. This one was no exception. In addition, I felt that the author’s prose was a bit overdone. I don’t mind looking up words in the dictionary as I read, but I found myself having to do so a bit too frequently for comfort in this book. Some reviewers compare Martin Amis favorably with Fyodor Dostoyevsky. However, in my opinion this book pales in comparison with The Brothers Karamazov. Thankfully, at only 242 pages, I was able to force myself to read this depressing tale until the end. I doubt I’ll turn to Amis's fiction again; however, some of his non-fiction works seem like they would be worth reading.
Liked the research and authentic feeling of a challenging life. Appreciated knowing his brothers feelings and reasons for decisions. Recommend