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Filling a God-size Hole

During a BBC interview in 1984, Martin Amis (son of Kingsley) casually mentioned that he wished he could believe in God. "Do you really mean that?" his chat host asked, tossing his well-coifed locks in a show of secular amazement. With a sigh. Amis explained himself Without belief, what was there after all? One day's pretty much the same as the last, isn't it? You work, you drink, you talk with friends, and, sooner or later, it ends badly.

As an evocation of life without faith, this was admirably spare. No angst. No pining for Godot. Just a testament to the flat boredom that can overtake us without faith in a purpose larger than our own puny aspirations. In spite of their well-known disagreements on other matters (Kingsley turned rightward after making his pile, while Martin remains a good deal left of center), the younger Amis seems to stand forlornly shoulder to shoulder with his father in matters theological. In 1990, he told Rolling Stone he felt a "God-size hole" in his life. He wished it could be filled, but he concluded, God is "not available anymore."

You would not expect someone as seemingly au courant as Amis to admit to such nostalgia for absolutes. That he does makes him, I think, far more interesting than many other novelists of his generation. Like his father, his struggle with nihilism has made him a devotee of the cankered muse of satire. He is only too happy...

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