Amis and animadversions

From The War Against Cliche

Readers of the present book are asked to keep an eye on the datelines which end these pieces, for they span nearly thirty years. You hope to get more relaxed and confident over time; and you should certainly get (or seem to get) kinder, simply by avoiding the stuff you are unlikely to warm to. Enjoying being insulting is a youthful corruption of power. You lose your taste for it when you realize how hard people try, how much they mind, and how long they remember (Angus Wilson and William Burroughs nursed my animadversions – and no doubt the animadversions of others – to the grave). Admittedly there are some critics who enjoy being insulting well into middle age. I have often wondered why this spectacle seems so undignified. Now I know: it’s mutton dressed as lamb. I am also struck by how hard I sometimes was on writers who (I erroneously felt) were trying to influence me: Roth, Mailer, Ballard.

—Martin Amis