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Lionel Asbo: State of England
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Published:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2012
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Description

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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Street Date:
08/21/2012
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307958099
ASIN:
B007EED4OY
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APA Citation (style guide)

Martin Amis. (2012). Lionel Asbo: State of England. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Martin Amis. 2012. Lionel Asbo: State of England. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Martin Amis, Lionel Asbo: State of England. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Martin Amis. Lionel Asbo: State of England. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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        MARTIN AMIS is the author of twelve previous novels, the memoir Experience, two collections of stories and six of nonfiction, most recently The Second Plane. He lives in Brooklyn.

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fullDescription

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.

seriesId
1334174
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Kathryn Harris, The New York Times Book Review (front page)
      • content:

        "Despite a time frame that gallops forward into 2013 and a wealth of irresistibly hyperbolized pop cultural references, Lionel Asbo is at heart an old-fashioned novel, earnest in its agenda... a theme familiar to the audience of Amis's forebear, Dickens: the corrupting influence of money... Amis is, like Dickens, an insistently moral writer, satire being an edifying genre with a noble cause: the improvement of society."

      • premium: False
      • source: The New Yorker
      • content: "One of Amis's funniest novels --in a league with 'Money' and 'London Fields.' Amis, like his heroes Nabokov and Bellow, writes exuberant, ecstatic prose. His ear is precisely tuned, and his sentences--in narration and dialogue--are lethal. Our hero is a thug named Asbo (for Anti-Social Behaviour Order), a brilliant sociopath who delivers beatings for sport and feeds Tabasco to his pit bulls to make them extra-ornery in the morning. (Reader alert: Asbo delivers the most hilarious wedding speech in the history of English literature.) He sort of raises his nephew, an ambitious lad who happens to be sleeping with Grandmum. Mid-book, Asbo wins the lottery, a Dickensian turn of fortune that not only leads to some unforgettable comic opportunities but deepens matters as well. The jokes, the high-voltage sentences--all that energy--begin to drive an increasingly complicated machine."
      • premium: False
      • source: Donna Seaman, Kansas City Star
      • content: "In his 13th novel--one of his most compulsively readable--wily, dead-on satirist and consummate artist Martin Amis is grandly acerbic, funny and unnerving.... He leads us on, shakes us up, knocks us down, brushes us off, then does it all over again...nimbly delivers stinging surprises, startling turnarounds, bludgeoning moments of horror and eked-out triumphs... Without hobbling the story, he takes on what are, in fact, universal concerns... With crisp insights, rollicking storytelling and acrobatic wit, Amis has created a peppery, topsy-turvy Pygmalion fable and hilarious dismantlement of our cherished rags-to-riches fantasy."
      • premium: False
      • source: Karen Sandstrom, Cleveland Plain Dealer
      • content: "Little fiction is more entertaining than Martin Amis at his pithy best. His latest novel posits plenty of pith and cutting cultural criticism. It is wild. It is whacked. [It] swings between wildly funny and harshly real."
      • premium: False
      • source: People
      • content: "Amis pumps his novel full of heart and warmth, providing an unexpected reward for readers."
      • premium: False
      • source: Jess Walter, Publishers Weekly
      • content: "Lionel Asbo crackles with brilliant prose and scathing satire [and is] savagely funny... So who could predict that, from this deliciously nasty setup, an author the New York Times once called 'fiction's angriest writer' would craft a novel so... Dickensian, a novel with such... I hate to even say it...heart... What follows is hilarious and strangely compelling--a gleefully twisted Great Expectations... Amis adopts a big, playful storytelling voice in this book. He riffs like a jazz master, in and out of vernacular, with brief gusts of description, all driven by a tight bass line of suspense."
      • premium: False
      • source: Liam Hoare, The Daily Beast
      • content: "Amis' portrait of someone who feeds Tabasco-splashed meat to his pit bulls in order to enrage them and toughen them up is surprisingly tender. Through Asbo, Amis explores the isolation and dislocation that comes with the shattering of old bonds and the manufacture of new ones due to spectacular accession to celebrity status.... Fond, too, is Amis' approach to Asbo's mixed-race nephew, who serves as the vehicle for the moral conclusion of what in form is in fact not satire but a fairytale. Des Pepperdine is an autodidact who escapes the cycle of crime and violence that plagues Diston Town--Amis' fictional London hood where 'everything hated everything else'--by doing well in school, going to college and landing a job... Amis' plea would seem to be that nobody is beyond redemption, no matter what their circumstance."
      • premium: False
      • source: Charles Foran, The Globe and Mail
      • content: "A ripper of a story, in the Dickens mode... the novel mingles in genuine characters with the usual comedic grotesques, and is tender, almost earnest, in its emotions.... Amis is the most original sentence-writer in English."
      • premium: False
      • source: Michel Basilieres, The Toronto Star
      • content: "Technically brilliant, dazzling in st
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        June 11, 2012
        If there’s a more depraved human being than the title character of Martin Amis’s savagely funny new novel, Lionel Asbo: State of England, you do not want to meet him. Like earlier Amis creations Keith Talent (London Fields) and John Self (Money), Asbo’s very name (ASBO is the U.K. acronym for Anti-Social Behavior Order) is a tipoff of the author’s intent. And like those earlier Amis novels, Lionel Asbo: State of England crackles with brilliant prose and scathing satire. Lionel first runs afoul of the law at the age of three years, two days (“a national record”) for throwing bricks through car windows. By 21, he’s a vicious criminal who raises pitbulls on a diet of Tabasco Sauce and malt liquor and terrorizes his seedy London neighborhood. So far so Amis. So who could predict that, from this delightfully nasty setup, an author the New York Times once called “fiction’s angriest writer” would craft a novel so... Dickensian, a novel with such... I hate to even say it... heart. That’s because Lionel Asbo: State of England also features a hopeful, lovable orphan in need of a benefactor, Lionel’s nephew Desmond Pepperdine. And when Lionel wins £140 million in the national lottery, what follows is hilarious and strangely compelling—a gleefully twisted Great Expectations. Lionel’s family tree is a tangle of early breeding: his mum, Grace, had seven children by the age of 19: a girl, Cilla, then five boys named after Beatles (the last is named Stuart Sutcliffe) and, finally, Lionel. Only Cilla and Lionel have the same father, so, despite the age difference, the bookended siblings are known as “the twins.” Des is Cilla’s boy and when she dies young, Lionel is left to raise his smart, sensitive nephew, who is only six years younger than him. Lionel takes to his new role, encouraging Des to put down his schoolbooks and go break windows with his mates. Then Lionel gets rich and becomes a tabloid sensation, the Lottery Lout. He lives large, hires a publicist, and starts a phony relationship with one of those beautiful, boring women famous for being famous (think: a British Kardashian.) Wealthy Lionel is even worse than poor Lionel; boorish, brutal, wistful for his old life. “Not happy. Not sad. Just numb,” as he describes himself. “The only time I know I’m breathing is when I’m doing some skirt.” Amis adopts a big, playful storytelling voice in this book. He riffs like a jazz master, in and out of vernacular, with brief gusts of description, all driven by a tight bass line of suspense. You see, Des is hiding a secret and if Lionel finds out... well, let’s just say it would be better if Lionel does not find out. A double-edged question holds this terrific, lithe novel: will it be the fabulously wealthy Lionel who takes care of Des, or the sociopath? Reviewed by Jess Walter, who is the author of six novels, most recently Beautiful Ruins (Harper 2012). He won the 2005 Edgar Award for his novel Citizen Vince.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        August 1, 2012
        A social satire with a wickedly funny setup fails to sustain momentum and provide much of a payoff. The latest from Amis (The Pregnant Widow, 2010, etc.) returns to familiar themes of British caste and culture, though rarely has his writing been so over-the-top or so steeped in the vernacular. This is the story of the ultimate dysfunctional family (through which the "State of England" subtitle invites the reader to extend the symbolism), where the title character is a hardened, perpetual criminal, a sociopath who prefers prison to the outside world and the pleasures of porn to the complications of relationships. He has taken his last name from the acronym for Anti-Social Behaviour Orders, and he has become "the anti-dad, the counterfather" to his nephew, Des, a teenage orphan only six years younger than Lionel. As the novel opens, the racially mixed Des is secretly involved in sexual relations with his grandmother (Lionel's mother), though this isn't quite as age-inappropriate as it is incestuously taboo, for both Des' mother and grandmother began procreating when they were 12. The boy's other uncles include John, Paul, George, Ringo and (for Beatle obsessives) Stu. Nothing subtle here, but much that's outrageously funny. Des writes a letter to a newspaper advice columnist about his predicament, as Lionel rails about the "GILF" phenomenon that is dragging down "a once-proud nation. Look. Beefy Bedmate Sought by Bonking Biddy. That's England." Lionel becomes rich beyond all expectation by winning the lottery, Des disappoints him by maturing into a conventional and respectable family man, grandma suffers from some sort of early-onset dementia. The climax to which the novel builds is whether she'll ever regain her wits and reveal the secret she shares with Des. All of this in a town where "everything hated everything else, and everything else, in return, hated everything back." An initially sharp satire turns tedious by midpoint.

        COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        March 1, 2012

        Self-named after England's notorious Anti-Social Behaviour Orders, thuggish Lionel Asbo aims to persuade daydreamy nephew Desmond Pepperdine to drop the books and get interested in pit bulls, porn, and the like. Desmond resists, but things get infinitely more complicated when Lionel wins the lottery and hires a public relations firm. Amis remains true to his own arch and acidulous vision, but the publisher hints that this book could be a commercial breakout. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

        Copyright 2012 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from June 1, 2012
        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. Lionel, a volatile and brutal thug much feared in his destitute Liverpool neighborhood, proudly changed his last name to Asbo, the English acronym for anti-social behavior order. Loyal to blood, Lionel has taken in his orphaned teenage nephew, Desmond. Gentle, smart, bookish, and half-black, Des nimbly if fearfully navigates Lionel's wrath and psychopathic pit bulls while anxiously harboring a potentially fatal family secret. While Lionel is in and out of prison, Des goes to college, becomes a journalist, and marries. Then Lionel wins the lottery and becomes the tabloids' favorite target as he struggles to transform himself and burns through a huge sum of money with mad desperation. In a wicked twist on the rags-to-riches motif, Amis exults in mocking the cheap dreams of the lottery and the rapacious British press while affirming the toxic conflicts of class, race, and gender. Even more caustically diabolical is the way Amis toys with our trust in love. 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. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With praise still in the air for Amis' last novel, The Pregnant Widow (2010), readers will flock to this rapidly devoured, fiendishly comedic, and telling fable.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2012, American Library Association.)

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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,...

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