Martin Amis in Brooklyn
A few local tips for the tennis player and famous author.
"Anyone who shared the common belief that the decline of British tennis was a result of the game's bourgeois, garden-party associations would have felt generally braced and corrected, at the Warlock Sports Center, to hear the ragged snarls and howls, the piercing obscenities and barbaric phonemes which made the wired courts seem like cages housing slaves or articulate animals in permanent mutiny against their confinement, their lash-counts, their lousy food." —The Information
Amis will shortly turn 62, meaning that he will be, in the eyes of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, a senior citizen and thus eligible to buy a full-season tennis permit at a tremendous discount. Still, they almost never check for permits at the courts on Congress Street, so he should instead invest the $20 in proper togs. (Amis' opponent in the match that inspired his other great tennis scene, in Money, later remarked that the author showed up wearing black Argyle socks.)
"I've driven in New York," John Self says in Money. "Five blocks, and you're reduced to tears of barbaric nausea." To help avoid such emotional seizures when motoring south toward Atlantic Avenue, Amis should drive lightly traveled Furman Street whenever possible. This will also afford his passengers a chance to admire the view from under Norman Mailer's old house on Columbia Heights, which Amis once described, in 1981, "overlooking New York Harbor and the Dunhill lighters of Manhattan." (That was the year before he wrote, in a review, that "Norman Mailer's new book bears all of the signs—all of the watermarks, all the heraldry—of a writer faced with an alimony bill of $500,000 a year.")
The marvelous oddity in the Amis oeuvre is an out-of-print paperback titled Invasion of the Space Invaders. Published in 1982, subtitled "An Addict's Guide to Battle Tactics, Big Scores and the Best Machines" and featuring an introduction by Steven Spielberg, it is a book bearing all of the signs of a writer attempting retrospectively to justify several hundred hours spent hovering above Tempest. The must-read excerpt available at the top Amis-scholarship site gives its flavor: "Every game has a distinctive fire-and-dodge action that you will gradually master. In Defender it is a fast two-finger action on Fire and Thrust, in Asteroids a spray action on Fire and Rotate. In Space Invaders it is a continuous co-ordination of Fire and retreat, Fire and retreat ...."
There is a Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga classic cocktail table at Boat, and it accepts dollar bills. Don't bother asking the bartenders for change unless you just want to flirt.
Troy Patterson is Slate's television critic.
Photograph of Martin Amis by Ian Gavan/Getty Images.