Money: A Suicide Note Summary

  • Last updated on July 21, 2023
Title: Money: A Suicide Note by Martin Amis

Publication Date: 1984
Genre: Satirical Fiction
Page Length: Approximately 384 pages


Money: A Suicide Note, penned by acclaimed British author Martin Amis, was published in 1984 and is a satirical fiction novel exploring the excesses and allure of wealth and success in the 1980s. Through a dark and humorous lens, Amis delves into the life of its protagonist, John Self, and offers a scathing critique of capitalism and its effect on personal relationships, morality, and mental health.

The novel is divided into three sections, each encapsulating John Self's journey through the dark underbelly of the materialistic world he inhabits.


In this introductory section, John Self, a 35-year-old film director, is given a chance to direct his first motion picture with the backing of a wealthy and enigmatic American producer, Fielding Goodney. John Self's excessive lifestyle, fueled by money and debauchery, is showcased. He is determined to create a movie that celebrates excess, reflecting his own life.


The narrative shifts to New York City, where John Self travels for business meetings related to his film. Amidst a frenetic atmosphere of advertising, substance abuse, and rampant consumerism, John finds himself entangled in a web of deceit and betrayal. He becomes suspicious of Fielding Goodney's motives and discovers the pervasive influence of America's entertainment and financial industries.


Returning to London, John is plagued by severe financial difficulties, fleeting relationships, and self-loathing. As his own existence crumbles, he is forced to confront his inner demons while attempting to wrap up the unraveling film project. The novel reaches its climax as John's mental state teeters towards a breakdown, emblematic of the dangers that excessive wealth and obsession with materialism can inflict on the human psyche.

Throughout the novel, Amis intertwines a host of characters who both embody and critique the spirit of the era. From the manipulative producer, Fielding Goodney, to the aspiring actress Selina Street, and the enigmatic Martin Amis himself, the novel presents a diverse array of individuals driven by ambition, greed, and an insatiable hunger for fame.

Thematically, Money: A Suicide Note explores the corrosive nature of money, questioning the authenticity of personal relationships in a materialistic society. It exposes the hollowness of the pursuit of wealth, as characters sacrifice their morals and well-being in pursuit of success. Amis skillfully weaves a narrative that highlights the destructive consequences of unchecked capitalism, forcing readers to reflect on the impact of money on one's identity and happiness.

By providing a critique of the 1980s consumer culture, Amis's Money: A Suicide Note serves as a cautionary tale, reminding readers of the dangers that result from an overwhelming focus on wealth accumulation. Through its biting humor, compelling characters, and incisive social commentary, the novel invites readers to reassess their own relationship with money and reflect upon the potential pitfalls of a society driven by materialistic pursuits.

While not attempting to extol the virtues of the book, this summary aims to offer an objective overview of the plot, characters, themes, and significance of Money: A Suicide Note.

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