I’ve made progress with my 65 Book Challenge by (relatively) breezing through book number five: The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis. I feel that I can heave a gentle sigh of relief because I’ve managed to survive both Amis’ quirky rhetoric and his, at times, cringe-worthy story. The main character of The Rachel Papers, a young man named Charles, has been acknowledged by Martin Amis as an autobiographical character. I can confidently say that I’m not sure which makes me more uncomfortable: the having delved into the alarming mind process of a teenager soon to be an ‘adult’ or the discovery that this protagonist exists in real life.
I can say right off the bat that The Rachel Papers is a love story; more appropriately, it’s the story of a first love. But don’t let this fool you. There is absolutely, irrefutably nothing sweet and sappy about this tale of youthful infatuation; the story is gritty and, well, real – sometimes in ways that will make you squirm in your seat. And when you manage to navigate your way past the raucous sex scenes, you’ll begin to see the little moments and actions that invariably have their effect on a romantic relationship. Amis captures an idea that few authors dare to: that romance is not all roses and stolen kisses, but at times rather disgusting and degrading.
Unfortunately, I find myself only willing to give this book two stars on my Goodreads account. Frankly, I’m still a bit shaken by the reading experience and suffering a bit from the aftershock (there are some images I’d like very much to erase from my memory). My final consensus: Amis’ debut novel The Rachel Papers is brilliant, but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.
Be sure to join me on my next read, Lit: A Memoir by Mary Karr. And I hope you are having a happy reading week! :)