The Rachel Papers was Martin Amis’ first novel and was about a young man running around London in the seventies trying to get laid (mainly by a girl called Rachel) and cram for the Oxford Entrance Exam. I’ve always had a soft spot for it as I read it back when I was a fresh faced sixth former with very similar interests. The reason for recommendation is, this passage:
The Practical Criticism Paper. I explicated a Donne sonnet and paid uncomprehending lip-service to a beefy dirge by someone called John Skelton. there was a D. H. Lawrence essay on how passionate and truthful D. H. Lawrence was: a characteristic piece of small-cocked doggerel which I treated with characteristic knowingness. Finally, I belaboured one of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s sleazier lyrics, implying (a last-minute reread made clear) that it was a high time we burned all extant editions of the little fag’s poetry; emendations took the form of replacing some of the ‘ands’ with ‘buts’, and of changing the odd ‘moreover’ to ‘however’.