Monday, August 13, 2012

Lionel Asbo: State of England-Martin Amis

Lionel Asbo: State of England

Martin Amis

Knopf, Aug 21 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780307958082

Lionel’s mom Grace had seven children by her ninetieth birthday. The oldest and only female offspring Cilla and the youngest Lionel had the same father. The others (John, Paul, George, Ringo and Stu) came from five different dads. When Lionel was a couple days passed his third birthday, he set the State of England record for youngest felon when he tossed bricks at passing cars. His behavior over the next two decades proved constantly his Anti-Social Behaviour Orders affirmed by Lionel when he adopted the last name of Asbo as being representative of his sociopathic actions terrorizing London by his malt liquor imbibing pit bulls as much as himself.

When Cilla dies, Lionel’s fifteen years old college bound nephew Desmond Pepperdine, who is having a tryst with Grace, needs a parent. Grace and the Beatles refuse so it leaves it up to Lionel who is left to hold the bag to mentor his nephew into being a miscreant chip off the uncle’s block. At about the same time Lionel wins the wins £140 million national lottery so he turns into an affluent numb-nut Lottery Lout who bores with boring females.

This is an odd but scathing satire that rips the veneer off of a so called caring society in which the real golden rule is to hate everyone as everyone hates you. The biting storyline focuses on the uncle and nephew as the former’s hyperbolic activities bring humor while his disappointing book-reading relative adds profundity. Although the over the top of Big Ben mockery is too long losing some of its sharpness, fans of sharp edged lampooning will appreciate the state of Asbo.

Harriet Klausner

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