Much Amis About Nothing
Posted on April 5, 2014
It’s nice when you can associate a typewriter you have in your collection with a favourite author.
Of course, many of us will buy a particular model of typewriter purely for the reason that such-and-such typed on one, as I did in the case of an Adler Universal 39 like the one used by Sir Kingsley Amis.
Like his father, Martin Amis has stuck with the typewriter. The following photo shows Martin in 1981, aged 32, sat in front of a Lettera 32…
Photograph: Martin Lawrence/Daily Mail/Rex Features
My Lettera 32
About typewriters, Martin is quoted as saying (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/time-taps-adieu-to-the-typewriter-1596048.html): “I suppose I’m a hold- out from another era, but I suspect the word processor doesn’t have a good effect on prose. The little mouse that vibrates away on the screen makes you think you are thinking when really you are not.”
And in an essay on Kurt Vonnegut (1983): “When success happens to an English writer, he acquires a new typewriter.When success happens to an American writer, he acquires a new life.”
This could perhaps be an observation partly based on his father (even if he was Welsh). Or perhaps Martin had himself in mind? He obviously changed typewriter at least once in his life. The following images show him using an (IBM or Adler?) electric.
Of the two authors, I prefer the younger Amis, but that may be due to the fact that I can relate more to his generation (he’s 12 years older than me).
Speaking of generations I can “relate” to:
Any image of Joe Stalin has always given me the creeps. I once had a vivid nightmare in which I was an attendee at a round-table meeting with Uncle Joe and feared for my life to the extent that I woke up in a cold sweat. It was the sort of dream you wake up from and feel was something more than a dream, possibly a glimpse of a past life. Since my father was born in the Ukraine and fled Stalin, I think there might be something in it – something in the gene pool.
It’s one thing to inherit physical traits (for example, you find yourself adopting a certain posture – with me it was sitting with my knees crossed, one elbow on knee with chin cupped in hand – and then you realise your old man used to strike that very same posture) but could it be possible to inherit memories? And not just from antecedents further up the family tree, but those sideways across it? Makes you think…
Thanks for reading.