Zoë Heller's Bookshelf
By Martin Amis
Amis is better known, particularly in this country, for his novels, but if I were going to be dropped on a desert island, this small, dazzling collection of his journalism about America is what I would choose to take with me. The pieces here, which range from portraits of Saul Bellow and Gloria Steinem to essays on AIDS and Palm Beach, are some of the most gloriously smart and funny things he has written. (And he's had quite a long career of being smart and funny.) Years ago, when I started out working for British newspapers, I gobbled up everything Amis wrote and sought, in vain, to emulate his bedazzling prose style. To this day, I find his writing properly inspirational. If ever I'm stuck or bored with what I'm doing, a quick draft of Amis helps to refire the engine.