Martin Amis   Time’s Arrow, or, The Nature of the Offense.
Harmony Books, 168 pages, $18

reviewed by James Bowman

It is extremely difficult for art to go beyond or behind “Thou’lt come no more,” Lear’s cry over dead Cordelia, without insulting our humanity. Artistic representation of suffering tends to become kitsch or worse the instant that it exploits the belief that death is not final, irrevocable, immitigable. Hopeful characters in the drama may express what everyone hopes: that the universe, in some unseen dimension, is indulgent toward the hopes and fears of the dying; but the artist and his art are ultimately bound by what we see, which is that death is “the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns.”

That line from Hamlet may seem ironic in the context of his father’s ghostly apparition,...


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