The Unbearable Shiteness Of Idi
FlyingRodent Applauds As Martin Amis Shocks The Literary World Once More With His Highly Controversial "Amin Was a Bastard" Polemic
Idi Amin Was a Right Bastard, by Martin Amis, 306pp, Jonathan Cape, £19.99
"...And though a thousand years may pass like the somnambulant meanderings of the Katonga river, never again shall the suncinerated plain of Afric' suffer the horrorism of another bastard like that proper nasty fucker, Idi Amin".
So ends the introduction to Idi Amin Was a Right Bastard, the latest assault on a little-known and seldom criticised historical figure by the pugnacious Martin Amis. As we might expect from so much of his recent output - Stalin Was a Right Bastard; Saddam Hussein Was a Right Bastard; Mohammed Atta Was a Right Bastard; The Gulag Was a Right Bastard and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a Right Bastard - Amis takes aim at an obscure yet much deserving target, then eviscerates him before the scandalised eye of the bien-pensant liberal literati.
Stylistically, Bastard Vol. V differs little from its predecessors, in that Amis has clearly read other writers' work on his subject and then regurgitated it in an emetic torrent of florid 19th century prose, splattered heavily with forced neologisms and masturbatory torture-porn. Indeed, some passages are redolent of a hobnailed, Gestapo Wordsworth shoving a perfumed thesaurus up a puppy's arse then kicking it yelping up and down a burning stairwell, with great effect and mortifying impact.
Yet to focus solely upon the obvious relish with which Amis approaches his material is to do great violence to the delicacy and precision of his attack on the Ugandan dictator - "A great big fat ugly genossassin and an arsehole to boot" - in this work. I fear that Amis's bravery in tackling so beloved a figure as Idi Amin will gain him few friends and likely cost him many more.
Witness the countless thousands who, provoked to incandescent, spluttering rage by Bastard Vols. I-IV, marched in the streets with placards declaring Saddam Hussein Was Just Misunderstood and Once You Get Past The Murders, Stalin Was Merely a Little Ill-Tempered.
Once again Amis has dragged the well-flogged corpse of a bloodsoaked past into the light of day and now sits poking it with a stick and mumbling like a piss-streaked tramp on the Special Brew. Amin Was a Right Bastard is evidence, if evidence were needed, that Amis remains one of the UK's most vibrant, relevant and serious authors.