Alongside the slight but impressive Pullman novella, I have just finished Martin Amis’s magnificent autobiographical masterpiece, Experience. Forget the critics (and Amis has more than a few). If you care about writing, and even if you don’t, you should read this book. It is moving, honest, witty and brilliantly written. The narrative weaves together past and present like the shuttle of a loom, with the author, now fatherless (his father, Kingsley, being a revered novelist and poet in his own right), homing in on the eternal polarities of innocence and experience, life and death, and the ebb and flow of family relationships in a perpetual illustration of what Amis describes as ‘the novelist’s addiction to seeing parallels and making connections.’ In places, it is so intimate that the reader feels almost voyeuristic and there is a sense of Amis retreating into himself: ‘I have seen what perhaps no writer should ever see: the place in the unconscious where my novels come from.’ My notebook is full of brilliant quotations and witticisms from this book. I’ll cite just one here. With painful honesty, Amis is recounting how, drunk and high, he is childishly teasing fellow author and friend Salman Rushdie, with the latter just about to invite Amis ‘outside’; ‘By this stage,’ writes Amis, ‘Salman looked like a falcon staring through a venetian blind.’ Wonderful, simply wonderful! Amis has a notoriously bad relationship with the English press. From time to time, fellow authors and journalists jump up and take a pop at him (most recently a painfully inappropriate attack from his friend, Anna Ford). It is difficult to avoid the feeling that this is a sort of inverted snobbery. Amis is a brilliant wordsmith who intellectualises about his art and is always pushing at the boundaries. Sometimes it comes off (Experience being a glittering example). If sometimes it doesn’t, we should not hold against him the fact that he tried.