All this attention means that it is now perfectly likely that The Information will earn out its notorious £500,000 advance. You could almost imagine a PR genius had orchestrated the whole thing. And it throws into relief a central theme of the book and of Amis's mid-life crisis management: the question of universality. Both Amis and his fictional hero puzzle over a nasty dialectic: the real writer writes what he thinks is universal; readers, however, prefer to read stuff that is marginal, contingent, local; therefore either what you write isn't universal at all, or the universe which you seek to encapsulate is a pretty crap operation anyway. According to this pessimistic analysis, there is no longer any distinction between good books and bad books.
All nonsense, of course, based on a skewed understanding of the word "universal". But how piquant to think that Mr Amis is now the most discussed writer in the nation - and his novel set to become the spring's bestseller - for reasons (his teeth, cash, sex-life and capacity for envy) that are unliterary but all too "universal".Reuse content