Much Amis About Nothing

It’s nice when you can associate a typewriter  you have in your collection with a favourite author.

Of course, many of us will buy a particular model of typewriter purely for the reason that such-and-such  typed on one, as I did in the case of an Adler Universal 39 like the one used by Sir Kingsley Amis.

Kingsley Amis

Like his father, Martin Amis has stuck with the typewriter. The following photo shows Martin in 1981, aged 32, sat in front of a Lettera 32…


Photograph: Martin Lawrence/Daily Mail/Rex Features


My Lettera 32 

About typewriters, Martin is quoted as saying (  “I suppose I’m a hold- out from another era, but I suspect the word processor doesn’t have a good effect on prose. The little mouse that vibrates away on the screen makes you think you are thinking when really you are not.”

And in an essay on Kurt Vonnegut (1983): “When success happens to an English writer, he acquires a new  typewriter.When success happens to an American writer, he  acquires a new life.”

This could perhaps be an observation partly based on his father (even if he was Welsh). Or perhaps Martin had himself in mind? He obviously changed typewriter at least once in his life.  The following images show him using a TA-Triumph-Adler SE 1000 series (SE 1000/SE 1005/ SE1010/SE1011/SE1030/SE1040) office electronic typewriter.



Of the two authors, I prefer the younger Amis, but that may be due to the fact that I can relate more to his generation (he’s 12 years older than me).


Speaking of generations I can “relate” to:


Any image of Joe Stalin has always given me the creeps. I once had a vivid nightmare in which I was an attendee at a round-table meeting with Uncle Joe and feared for my life to the extent that I woke up in a cold sweat. It was the sort of dream you wake up from and feel was something more than a dream, possibly a glimpse of a past life. Since my father was born in the Ukraine and fled Stalin, I think there might be something in it—something in the gene pool.

It’s one thing to inherit physical traits (for example, you find yourself adopting a certain posture – with me it was sitting with my knees crossed, one elbow on knee with chin cupped in hand – and then you realise your old man used to strike that very same posture) but could it be possible to inherit memories? And not just from antecedents further up the family tree, but those sideways across it? Makes you think…

Thanks for reading.


8 thoughts on “Much Amis About Nothing

  1. ah, Amis pere et fils! But I didn’t know Martin used a typer as well. It kind of figures – people were still predominantly using them in the 80s, when Marty did his best work.
    Speaking of whom, I have a lot of fondness for his work (but somehow, his father seems the bigger/better writer — this is an odd statement to justify perhaps), but his latest stuff has been pretty atrocious. Like that Jospiovici guy said, it’s don’t-know-where-to-look bad, like when a favourite uncle is caught masturbating near a school. [Beat that for acid criticism). His Pregnant Widow is on my stack of books to re-sell/cycle – along with Koba the Dread – which starts of great, but is just one chapter of great. As far as bio values go, it’s a lame duck, compared to some of the proper (and way scarier) real bios of Joe.
    I think Martin peaked with Time’s Arrow – which is a brilliant formal experiment. Money is also v good.
    Anyhoo, I ramble. Nice post.


  2. Likewise not quite bought one because of an author connection – but was very chuffed to learn Agatha Christie owned one exactly like mine. Likewise using the Noiseless makes me think of Chandler and stories Noir 🙂


  3. Great post. It is amazing that the father and son authors are nearly in the same pose. I would much prefer the younger Martin Amis using a manual typewriter. I’ve purchased one electric typewriter (a 60’s Smith-Corona Coronet Electric) but choose not to use it often. There is just something about electrifying the process that gets my brain working faster than my fingers. From then, it’s all downhill.


  4. Well, I’ve never purchased a typewriter because a certain author used a similar model. I know I have a few models used by famous writers, but when the most recent arrival was delivered to my doorstep I did get the
    excitement of knowing I have a machine of the same model used by one of my favored authors.


  5. AH! I know how you feel with associating the writer with the machine. It is like there’s a common vector – as though you have a worm-hole to their creative process.

    As for Stalin – I like to think that creepy sensation is as a result of image selection and manipulation. In the same way that he destroyed people’s lives himself by doing that to others.


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