25 August 1949 – 19 May 2023
The novelist recalls the first lunch and last meeting with his courteous and funny friend who, as a writer, defined the age he lived in
At the end of the 1980s, when I was appointed books editor at the Irish Times, my predecessor in the job urged me to pop over to London for a couple of days, stay at a nice hotel, have a couple of good dinners, pay my respects to some of my counterparts over there, and call in on a few publishers to find out what they had coming up in the way of masterpieces. The jaunt turned out more of an embarrassment than anything else, since half the people I spoke to were baffled as to why I was there, while the other half were trying not to laugh.
To salvage something from the debacle I decided I should meet at least one writer, since writers after all were the ones producing the goods. So I phoned Martin Amis –how did I have his number? – and suggested lunch. He agreed, and we met at an unpretentious little place in Notting Hill. It was our first encounter, though I knew, admired and envied his novels and his superb essay collections.