Lionel Asbo - a very violent but not very successful young criminal - is going about his morning duties in a London prison when he learns that he has just won £139,999,999.50 on the National Lottery. This is not necessarily good news for his ward and nephew, the orphaned Des Pepperdine, who still has reason to fear his uncle's implacable vengeance. Savage, funny, and mysteriously poignant, Lionel Asbo is a modern fairy-tale from one of the world's great writers.
©2012 Martin Amis (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
Martin Amis would probably like us to compare his latest work to Dickens - but if one does Martin Amis comes off as such a loser. Reading this child of the British Public School and Literary Hierarchy lazily mocking, mimicking and satirising the 'undeserving poor', you will not be reminded of Dickens, but the braying of yuppies in a wine bar in central London. Amis's under-educated 21 year old hero uses phrases such as 'wise after the fact' and 'the rich man's shilling' that sound well out of place from a man born in East London in about 1990. He lives on the 33rd floor in a council estate - so MA knows that councils used to build high rise blocks, but he has never got close enough to notice that they never reach more than about 10 floors. MA soon gets bored imagining life with no money, so he magics his hero £140m from the lottery. This makes the book even lazier, even less credible and no more amusing.
Indeed, I could forgive all this if it was funny. It is just drab. The incest, the cruelty to animals, the pathological meanness, where are the laughs? It reminds me very much of 'Fraction of the Whole' - the worst book I have ever read. I had this funny thought: Martin Amis has the same initials as Marie Antoinette, and that is exactly the tone of this book. MA2 would have roared with laughter when MA1 said, 'Let them eat cake.' The two stars are for vocabulary and writing style - but they won't save this book from sinking without trace in 3 years. Good narrator.
A virtuosic performance by Jennings of Amis' engaging tale. The hyperbolic characters felt completely real and Jennings oscillation between narration and local accent was impressive. He really put across how certain aspects of that London accent require a great effort of diction - while other (eg Pamfeon Grand) do not. One small production gripe. It seems as though some sentences earmarked for replacement remain in the recording. At first this repetition seemed like it might be Amis emphasis - and without checking the text I can't say this isn't the case. However, one involves a change of accent on the 'second take'. Don't be troubled by this though. It certainly isn't Jennings' fault and it would be difficult for a tiny thing like this to detract much from such a great reading.
Nasty characters, nasty themes, feel like you need a good wash after listening to it.
A view of life that you don't really want to have - the excerpt on the Kindle seemed light hearted and jocular - don't be fooled.
The narrator is very good - however the book left me miserable
Very enjoyable, a good comedy narrated beautifully by Alex Jennings, whose character voices, Lionel, Desmond and the rest, bring texture to the dialogue and enhance the prose. You can argue where Lionel Asbo stands among Amis' work, but you can't argue that this audiobook is shamelessly enjoyable for anyone with a sense of humour about the modern 'State of England'. Yes, there are references which some find out of date, but that is more than made up for by the quality and humour of the story. At times laugh out loud funny. I look forward to whatever Amis publishes next, and listening to more books narrated by Alex Jennings also.
This book may of interest to someone but it most certainly wasn't me. I persevered and finished the book but I almost wish I hadn't. A cruel, abusive lout who cleans up in the lottery. A very uncomfortable read.
This book fizzes with energy. Alex Jennings is a brilliant reader, bringing to lofe the disparate characters in this extended fable. I enjoyed this Martin Amis book more than the previous ones. Well worth a listen.
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