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VISITING MRS. NABAKOV AND OTHER EXCURSIONS

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VISITING MRS. NABAKOV AND OTHER EXCURSIONS Martin Amis (Harmony Books, $20) This collection’s 33 articles on 33 subjects have only one thing in common: Amis keeps popping himself into the picture, like a silly neighbor kid mugging his face into your family’s holiday photo. Unfortunately, Amis is less worth reading about than any of his announced topics, which include John Lennon, topless beaches at Cannes, Isaac Asimov, world championship chess, Anthony Burgess, pro tennis, the Rolling Stones, Madonna, and the 1988 Republican convention. But when he focuses on anything besides himself, he’s dazzling: Of a victim portrayed in The Tenant by actor-director Roman Polanski, Amis says, ”He seems to believe that if these strange things weren’t happening to him, then other strange things would be happening to him instead.” Amis’ moving piece on Salman Rushdie’s plight ought to be required reading. And the title essay about Mrs. Nabokov is…well…Nabokovian. B -DAB