From the Observer
For years, there has been a presumptuous idea in university literary departments that a novelist’s intentions are irrelevant and that the last person who can explain a work’s meaning is its author. That task must fall to critics, who, strangely enough, do not write novels themselves but produce theory in university literary departments. Evidence against comes from Money. Martin Amis does not dissect or even mention the politics of the last Conservative government in his account of the increasingly deranged life of John Self, a porn-consuming, junk-food-guzzling, woman-beating yob.
But when he published it in 1984, he said he intended Money to be a satire of Thatcherism and his readers knew it without having to be told. Take the scene, which stayed with me, when Self and his drunken colleagues from an ad agency throw food at each other across a respectable restaurant. As they break into choruses of We are the Champions, Self notices that the “middle-aged pair at the next table retract slightly and lower their heads over their food. ‘No, the rest of the meal isn’t going to be much fun for these two, I’m afraid,'” he thinks. “I suppose it must have been cool for people like that in places like this before people like us started coming here also. But we’re here to stay. You try getting us out.”