I’ve been a huge fan of Martin Amis’s writing ever since I discovered him and read his back catalog in the 1990s. What I love about his work is that he never pulls back from his self-loathing instincts. More than any other novelist, he describes in minute detail the horrors of inhabiting human flesh, and even his youthful novels are obsessed with documenting bodily corruption and decay.
The Pregnant Widow is unfortunately a disappointment. Amis pulls back on the self-loathing, and he shies away from the horrors of the flesh. Perhaps this was inevitable, given the setting for the book (1970), the fact that the main characters are all in their 20s, and that the male protagonist Keith Nearing is once again only a lightly disguised version of the now 60-ish Martin Amis, and the middle-aged and elderly tend to romanticize youth.
There are some good lines about aging and the prospect of death, however, that are vintage Amis:
When you become old. . . When you become old, you find yourself auditioning for the role of a lifetime; then, after interminable rehersals, you’re finally starring in a horror film–a talentless, irresponsible, and above all low-budget horror film, in which (as is the way with horror films) they’re saving the worst for last. (5)