Dead Babies (1975)
by Martin Amis
As deeply, deeply, deeply tired as I am of the English Novel, I can not help but notice the similarity between the scabrous modern characters of Martin Amis, that late 20th century English novelist par excellance, and my own particular character traits. That the characters in Dead Babies are so obviously terrible is enough to give me pause and perhaps detract a trifle from the pleasure of the material, but it is hard to avoid the roots of my own world-view in Amis' own weltanschaaung.
"Scabrous" that's one word you can use to describe the characters in Dead Babies. "Dated" would certainly describe the loose plot, about a half dozen wealthy-ish young English and Americans who are gathered in a country house of a weekend of booze, drugs and debauchery. Almost every single one of them is truly hateful. Fans of the wicked 80's fiction of Brett East Ellis and Jay McInerney will be happy to find those two authors literary antecedent, and fans of Eveyln Waugh will be happy to find his successor.
Dead Babies got dropped from the revised edition of the 1001 Books list, and it is easy to understand that decision. Dead Babies is at its most effective when it provokes nausea in the reader. That is perhaps a recipe for notoriety, but not for longevity.