Lionel Asbo: Book summary and reviews of Lionel Asbo by Martin Amis

Lionel Asbo

State of England

By Martin Amis

Lionel Asbo
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2012,
    272 pages.

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Book Summary

A savage, funny, and mysteriously poignant saga by a renowned author at the height of his powers.

Lionel Asbo, a terrifying yet weirdly loyal thug (self-named after England's notorious Anti-Social Behaviour Order), has always looked out for his ward and nephew, the orphaned Desmond Pepperdine.  He provides him with fatherly career advice (always carry a knife, for example) and is determined they should share the joys of pit bulls (fed with lots of Tabasco sauce), Internet porn, and all manner of more serious criminality.  Des, on the other hand, desires nothing more than books to read and a girl to love (and to protect a family secret that could be the death of him).  But just as he begins to lead a gentler, healthier life, his uncle - once again in a London prison - wins £140 million in the lottery and upon his release hires a public relations firm and begins dating a cannily ambitious topless model and "poet."  Strangely, however, Lionel's true nature remains uncompromised while his problems, and therefore also Desmond's, seem only to multiply.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Lionel Asbo crackles with brilliant prose and scathing satire [and is] savagely funny... [Amis] riffs like a jazz master, in and out of vernacular, with brief gusts of description, all driven by a tight bass line of suspense." - Jess Walter, Publishers Weekly

"Amis' phenomenal vim and versatility, anchoring roots in English literature, and gift for satire power this hilariously Dickensian, nerve-racking, crafty, bull's eye tale of a monster and a mensch… This deliciously shivery, sly, and taunting page-turner provokes a fresh assessment of the poverty of place, mind, and spirit and the wondrous blossoming of against-all-odds goodness." - Booklist

"Despite the distractions of the Lionel's shenanigans (ridiculous, over the top, and, yes, funny) readers will be drawn to Des. He may be the straight man in the piece but he adds depth to the novel. It's a fun read all around, but fans of Junot Díaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Paul Beatty's The White Boy Shuffle will want to look for this." - Library Journal

"A joy - and strangely life-affirming... It certainly has much of the dazzling prose that made his earlier works so stand-out. ...Though it satirises a society in decline it is also, in the end, a story about the triumph of education over ignorance, love over hate." - The Times (U.K.)

"A surprisingly tender story… For all its scabrous humour, this is at heart an old-fashioned tale in which goodness may still find a way to triumph." - The Daily Mail (U.K.)

"The novel comes at you and comes at you and keeps on coming. It never flags… It is a great big confidence trick of a novel - an attack that turns into an embrace - a book that looks at us, laughs at us, looks at us harder, closer, and laughs at us harder and still more savagely. It is every inch the novel that we all deserve." - The Guardian (U.K.)

"A wicked satire [and] frequently wincingly funny. Amis's aim at the totems and mores of common fame is as unerring, and his phrase-making as pyrotechnically dazzling, as ever… Amis also writes with real - and uncharacteristic - tenderness." - The Telegraph (U.K.)

"Martin Amis has let himself go at last, [with] the broadest comedy he has ever published… Amis's delight in the incorrigible is genuinely Dickensian." - Evening Standard (U.K.)

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Author Information

Martin Amis Author Biography

Photo: Isabel Fonseca

Martin Amis was born Martin Louis Amis on 25 August 1949, the second of three children to Kingsley and Hilary (Hilly) Amis (nee Bardwell). He is the author of twelve previous novels, the memoir Experience, two collections of stories and six of nonfiction. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Link to Martin Amis's Website

Name Pronunciation
Martin Amis: AIM-as

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