'Life is mainly death and babies; ordinary miracles and ordinary disasters, the white magic of growth, and then the other magic at the other end of the line, the black magic, just as strange, just as feverish and just as out-of-nowhere.' Martin Amis, Experience Life: Dubbed 'the Mick Jagger of English letters', Martin Amis' personal storyline just about lives up to the hype. Born in 1949 in Oxford, England, Amis experienced a nomadic childhood since his father, the curmudgeonly novelist Kingsley Amis, taught at universities in Britain and the United States. After his parents divorced when he was 12, he attended a string of schools, showing little promise. The breakthrough came when his stepmother, novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard, introduced him to the works of Jane Austen, which inspired him to persevere in his studies. He eventually graduated from Oxford in 1971 with an honours degree in English. Amis then held a succession of journalistic literary jobs before becoming a full-time writer and generating a string of novels, short stories, essays and screenplays that made his name as one of the sharpest satirists around. His first novel, The Rachel Papers, published when he was just 24, netted the Somerset Maugham Award in 1974 - (an honour that his father won for his first novel, Lucky Jim, 20 years earlier). Subsequent blockbusters include Success, Money, Einstein's Monsters, London Fields, and Time's Arrow, an acclaimed work about the Nazi death camps which dispenses with linear narrative. After that, the reviews became bruising, as did his life. First, Amis left his wife of almost 10 years and his two sons to take up with an American heiress named Isabel Fonseca 'for love'. He then had a daughter with his new flame, discovered the existence of a grown-up daughter from an old affair and learned that a serial killer had butchered his cousin. The turbulence spread to his business affairs. Dissatisfied with the negotiations for the rights to his eighth novel, The Information, he sacked his agent, Pat Kavanagh, thus enraging her husband, the author Julian Barnes, who was until that fateful decision Amis' soulmate. Labelled irresponsible and greedy by the press, Amis further worsened his reputation when he underwent extensive, exorbitant dental reconstruction and triggered the allegation of vanity. In yet another twist, after his father died in 1995, he fired the editor of Kingsley's letters over the planned inclusion of sensitive diary material. Work: Fiction - The Rachel Papers (Jonathan Cape, 1973); Dead Babies (Jonathan Cape, 1975); Success (Jonathan Cape, 1978); Other People: A Mystery Story (Jonathan Cape, 1981); Invasion Of The Space Invaders (Hutchinson, 1982); Money (Jonathan Cape, 1984); Einstein's Monsters (Jonathan Cape, 1987); London Fields (Jonathan Cape, 1989); Time's Arrow (Jonathan Cape, 1991); The Information (HarperCollins, 1995); Night Train (Jonathan Cape, 1997); Heavy Water And Other Stories (Jonathan Cape, 1998). Non-fiction - The Moronic Inferno And Other Visits To America (Jonathan Cape, 1986); Visiting Mrs Nabokov And Other Excursions (Jonathan Cape, 1993); Experience (Vintage, 2000); The War Against Cliche: Essays And Reviews (Vintage, 2001); Koba The Dread: Laughter And The Twenty Million (Jonathan Cape, 2002). Subplots: On one hand, Amis has earned a reputation as an iconoclast. He is credited with injecting the once-staid British fiction scene with a dose of American-style vigour. On the other hand, Amis has come under fire as too clever for his own good - a purveyor of flashy, needlessly nasty nihilism. Two of his best-known works, Money and London Fields, which ooze tawdriness and violence, appear to illustrate this criticism all too well. While the jury is out on his latest offering, an assessment of Stalin entitled Koba The Dread, one thing looks certain: despite the decline in his literary reputation, Amis will remain in the limelight. He only has to narrow his strikingly pale blue eyes and he makes front page news, at least in Britain from which he is generally exiled. A British newspaper recently tracked him down to a country associated less with writers and pop stars than war criminals: Uruguay.