The entertainingly footnoted volume loops back and forth in time to chronicle the author's coming of age with becoming earnestness and humor and serves up some charmingly antic set pieces including what must surely stand as the darkest and funniest account of dental surgery ever written. The book will be best remembered, however, for its wonderfully vivid portrait of the author's late father, the comic novelist and poet Kingsley Amis ... ...Mr. Amis's most fully realized book yet -- a book that fuses his humor, intellect and daring with a new gravitas and warmth, a book that stands, at once, as a loving tribute to his father and as a fulfillment of his own abundant talents as a writer.
...autobiographical writing of a very high order, well towards the life-over-art end of the spectrum. ‘The trouble with life (the novelist will feel) is its amorphousness, its ridiculous fluidity,’ Amis announces at the start of the book ... The engrossing result is a memoir that is almost remorselessly interesting; as if there has been an energising liberation in abandoning the constraints and demands of form ... The depiction of Martin and Kingsley’s relationship is one of the most remarkable son-father accounts we have; as good as Gosse, but without the rancour ... There are dark things in Experience but it is not a dark book, not least because of the extraordinary absence of the bitterness and anger Amis would be thoroughly entitled to feel about the British press.
In Experience, he reflects upon all these dramas, but the book isn't the tabloid tell-all the British press seemed to be hoping for. Rather, it's a balanced, haunting work of memory and memorial, a surprisingly gentle meditation on fathers and sons, mortality, the loss of innocence, divorce, friendship, love -- what Amis calls 'the main events,' those 'ordinary miracles and ordinary disasters' that shape you and define you and remain forever in your blood and being. No doubt critics will hail this intensely private evocation of a very public life as the arrival of a kinder Martin Amis ... Part fascinating literary memoir, part raw catharsis, Experience also represents a universal phenomenon: a son's attempt to understand his father and to make sense of his death.