I stumbled across a reference to Amis (both junior and senior) in two non-fiction books I read earlier this year. Christopher Hitchens in his memoirs recalls his hero of Kingsley and friendship with Martin. Julien Barnes also mentions Martin; both praise Money. Being unable to obtain Money at the local library, I picked up The Rachel Papers to introduce myself to Amis's style.
Overall this is what was expected. Blatant, gross adolescence; lots of honest male sexuality. Nothing too offensive or original, nothing very absurd.
As we wait on the eve of Charles's 20th birthday, I found myself hoping that something terrible would happen to him.
I was not a fan of Rachel's (although she is clearly better than Gloria), but I simply did not find anything appealing about Charles and I usually like pompous intelligent skinny boys.
But maybe that is the point. After all, despite being quite arrogant, Charles does not like himself much either. He is full of himself, but certainly not content with himself. As my husband's grandfather once said, "I think I would have been much happier if I was not so intelligent."
Even the Oxford admission interview is more of a fait accompli than an actual accomplishment; he is granted admission in order to be better cultivated. He does not necessarily earn his place.
In the end the only thing that does happen is that Charles gets older. And whether he actually changes or not, he is convinced that he has. The power of self fulfilling prophesy is grand.
Overall it has a few funny moments and some entertaining commentary about the self obsession of youth, the development of relationships, and the fear of growing older.