In ‘Career Move’, Amis shows both restraint and empathy, perhaps characteristics not usually associated with his writing. Prefiguring the literary jealousy that informs The Information, in ‘Career Move’ we have two writers, one who is rich, successful and highly praised, the other scrabbling away submitting to little magazines hoping to get the attention of his peers. One is a poet, one is a screenwriter. The catch (and the “career move”) is that the screenwriter is the one submitting to magazines, whilst it is the poet who is pitching ideas for his next “poem” to his agent.
Of course Amis’s father was both a novelist and a poet, so this is a world within which Amis grew up in, despite his own subsequent success. Here we have a quieter, more humane Amis – wondering what if the only success you ever get was the occasional magazine acceptance?
First published in the New Yorker, 1992, and available to subscribers to read here. Collected in Heavy Water and Other Stories, Jonathan Cape, 1998. Available to read online in the New York Times here