More Lad Than Bad

Martin Amis’s The Pregnant Widow begins as a beautifully poised, patient comedy of manners, in the tradition of the nineteenth-century English novels that Martin Amis’s college-age hero, Keith Nearing, is reading; then, in the last third, the narrative skips ahead and thins out and speeds up and starts to destroy itself joyously, like one of Jean Tinguely’s self-wrecking sculptures—or like civilization itself in the twenty-first century.

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