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Dead Babies

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  3,830 ratings  ·  157 reviews
If the Marquis de Sade were to crash one of P. G. Wodehouse's house parties, the chaos might resemble the nightmarishly funny goings-on in this novel by the author of London Fields. The residents of Appleseed Rectory have primed themselves both for a visit from a triad of Americans and a weekend of copious drug taking and sexual gymnastics. There's even a heifer to be slug ...more
Paperback, 206 pages
Published April 3rd 1991 by Vintage (first published 1975)
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Anthony Vacca
According to Martin Amis, 25 is the age at which I set aside childish things and become a wholly wretched person. I will move into a posh house in the country with my fratish friends and our pretty but willingly vapid chicks. Like all good-looking young people, we will leech off our nebbish but rich housemate, using his seemingly endless funds to maintain a continually bacchanal existence. When we are not rolling the next joint, snorting one more line, popping open one more bottle of champagne, ...more
mark monday
Amis at his most cutting and shallow. he's never been too big a fan of homo sapiens. this depiction of a weekend house party is populated by less-than sympathetic assholes who never quite reach the status of real people; it also includes a mysterious figure who visits various torments on these ridiculous little twits. do they deserve it? well, who really cares - they are basically insects at play, if such a thing could be possible. overall: pithy commentary, lots of sex & drugs & violenc ...more
A horribly well written book populated by horrible arseholes being unspeakably horrible to each other, in and out of the bedroom and in between times being horrible to neighbours, visitors and local wild life.
The subtitle for this one is "Dark Secrets". Doesn't that sound positively scandalous? Martin Amis is kind of a strange case: on the one hand he's incredibly witty, observant and has a style that could cut steel with its keen edge, but on the other reading his books sometimes feels like a guilty pleasure because he just loves to burrow deep into the minds of his characters and bring out the filth and degradation inside. Not only that, but he seems to revel in it: to delight in the fetishistic ex ...more
After enjoying Dead Babies, I can cheerfully take my chair at the Amis Cultist soiree with no inhibited glances or afterthoughts. Written in the vein of a Menippean satire, Dead Babies sees Martin delineating dishabille libertines of the Bowie-70s and exploring their savage exploits: casual terrorism, gleeful animal abuse, and rapacious drug intake constitute the menial; they exalt vapidity cloaked under the guise of counterculture, deliver glib vituperations upon perceived inferiors, and thorou ...more
This is the kind of book that later gave birth to more modern dirty, cruel writers like Will Self and Tibor Fischer. Really weird, really disgusting, pure Amis.
I realise this came out in 1975 and I see what Amis was trying to do here. If conducted better; namely being subversive without being self conscious, shallow and having 'Be Offensive' on default setting, it could've been amazing but I'm afraid I was left disenfranchised by the vileness of absolutely every character. As the protagonist and underdog I feel 'Little Keith' was intended to create a mild feeling of humanity and even sympathy from the reader, but as a rapist with horrendous entitlement ...more
Sep 25, 2007 Rachel rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: evil perverts
Shelves: read-part-of, fiction
This book is so disgusting and unfunny, I could not read it.
Sid Badguy
Great fun! A wonderful book to read aloud to the children!
Evan Brown
Those books.

Martin Amis is a master of debauchery, depravity and douchebaggery. Amis’ second novel, Dead Babies, is well-written, dark and hysterical at times. That being said, his novels often contain characters that though wildly entertaining, elicit little or no sympathy from the reader. Dead Babies is no exception.

Perhaps Lucy Littlejohn, the “golden-hearted whore” as we are told even before the novel starts, is sympathetic. She at least has a heart as evidenced by her staying with Keith at
Justin Evans
Probably 3.5 stars actually. This is hilarious black comedy, which I suspect hasn't aged all that well. It was first published in 1975, so between publication and my reading of it we've had the immoral 80s, the high conceptualist 90s, and the more-immoral-still 00's; not to mention the internet and internet porn and designer drugs... the epigraph suggests that this is meant to be satire of the present by means of speculation on the future. But since almost everything that Amis speculates about i ...more
Isaac Cooper
And so Appleseed Rectory is a place of shifting outlines and imploded vacuums; it is a place of lagging time and false memory, a place of street sadness, night fatigue and cancelled sex.

And I thought Success ended poorly. Wow, I spoke too soon. Success has an utterly fantastic, awesome ending compared to Dead Babies. Like … seriously. This is a funny book, no doubt. Amis clearly hates humanity and his satirical, dark humour is very clever and engaging. Dead Babies follows a household of various
So this is gonna be a shitty review and for that, dear readers I apologize. I wrote a review this afternoon and before I could hit submit, my window crashed and I lost my text. And of course, I was rushing to finish prior to leaving to pick kids up. Now, I have the chaos of kids and dinner and needing to leave for work in 45 mins (!), but I want to get this off my to-do for the day so I can embark on Spooner guilt-free later this evening.

And so, here are the highlights:
I liked it. I felt like it
Dead Babies is Amis' second novel which takes his unique style of the grotesque - or as it was called 'the new unpleasantness' - to the nth degree. The novel focuses on a rabble of upper class drug users that convene at a country estate for a lost weekend - cue decadence, excessiveness and a lot of humour (albeit rather puerile humour). While Amis is still growing as a writer at this stage, this work comes across as his most free in terms of style and language - something that helps push the spo ...more
Brittany Kubes
The GROTESQUE! Satire can be so uncomfortable, especially when it details deformities, drugs, and sex. If you like Chuck Palahniuk, Irvine Welsh, or Marquis de Sade, all of which I do, read this book. Can’t quite figure out the significance of the motto of “dead babies,” except that it’s crass & unfeeling, a la ‘dead baby jokes’ from grade school (What's funnier than a dead baby? A dead baby in a clown costume!).

Though likely published as a comment on the hippies/hedonists of the 1970s, it i
Suzanne Moore
It takes a lot for me not to like a book enough to say it was ok. This book was not even that. The characters’ behavior throughout was infantile and lacked conscious. I could excuse one, maybe two characters, but the whole cast! To me, the message gained from Amis’s story should be “just say NO,” otherwise you may fall into a similar trap. It is hard for me to believe that anyone would really act so extreme or carry things to such an excess. In this setting the weekend party seems a challenge fo ...more
Feb 17, 2008 Lia rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Lia by: an abecedarian impulse
Shelves: contemporary, novels
Brilliant opening. This is the first I've read of Martin Amis - his cruel, precise sketches of people remind me of Henry Miller or William S. Burroughs. I have to say I enjoyed the vocabulary after a week of nothing but young adult and children's fiction. And after Man Bites Dog, the characterisation in this seems especially imaginative: The characters are characters, by which I mean fuck ups, and while in a sense they're all caricatures I found them nevertheless engaging, and all the more impr ...more
A number of the blase noted recently that 2010's The Pregnant Widow is similar to Marty's earlier novel Dead Babies. This observation is grounds for drug testing in my book. Dead Babies is a veering gonzo assault on the senses. Screams from the asylum compete with boozy sadism and a taunt of the bedroom farce which Iris Murdoch was accomplishing at the time (1975). Amis even makes snort in the direction of Iris, for the sake of form, mind you. Dead babies is Houellebecq on acid. The serrated sen ...more
Jakey Gee
Pretty awful. This is the third Amis novel I've read in ten years. The man clearly hates people. Remember Keith Talent - a really contemptuous proto-'Chavs' portrait of working class people? Well, here's Keith Whitehead, a contemptuous portrait of... short, fat people. Characters don't have to be nice, I know - but here they're hateful and flat and they just don't exist anywhere. Reading about them is corrosive. The only thing I'm grateful for is the one-liner about people, which I've since hear ...more
Overwhelming, complete, sick, scary, splendid. Everithing is perfect about this book.
This story is another sad example of the drug culture, going no where, seventies. It supposedly is a parody of Agatha Christie novel and there is the England pastoral, large mansion house setting and a crew of characters and a bit of mystery with notes from “Johnny”. This story takes place over a weekend. We have several characters. The British characters are Quentin and Celia (husband and wife and owners of the house), Andy Adorno handsome and aggressive. Giles, anxious and phobic, Keith Whiteh ...more
Jane Ostler
I find it very hard to review this book in any other way than to look at its moral credentials. If the school bully was to write a book it might be something like this. Starting with the title, this book "Dead Babies" asks us to consider the seamier side of life, the one well off the straight and narrow. We are slowly and meanderingly introduced to a group of people mainly living for no real purpose other than to experiment with recreational drugs and loveless sex.

"Dead babies" refers both to th
R. Burns
On the jacket cover of another book by Amis, I read that compared him to John Updike "but meaner." I would add a "whole lot meaner" for it's hard to find a sympathetic character in Dead Babies. Instead it's a menagerie of the self-absorbed with a few con-dependents thrown in. Nearly everyone is privileged, spoiled, self-absorbed and addicted to one thing or another. The "one thing" is in most cases many drugs and/or alcohol, but there's also some serious sexual addiction at play. Which was why I ...more
Apr 19, 2009 Charity rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: disgusting pervs plus their friends and lovers
Shelves: 1001books, brit-lit, wtf
Wow! That book was really disgusting!!

Talented Brit author, Martin Amis + drugs and narcissism of Bret Easton Ellis + hedonism and perversion of Chuck Palahniuk = Dead Babies

I swear this book seemed liked Less Than Zero, The Rules of Attraction, Fight Club, and Choke all mixed together in an effed up blender. Only this was written in 1975, so it's the original.

I haven't read anything else by Amis, but my interest is piqued. From what I gather, this is bit different...more daring...than his other
Jennifer Barbee
Minor Amis work, if you ask me. Having started my Amis reading with London Fields and The Rachel Papers, I am pleased that I didn't read this first. I fear if I had, I'd never have read the (far superior) others. Though this novel is scathing and even darkly comedic in parts, it also feels a little surface, and very hyperbolic. The characters seemed more like sketches than like fully-formed human beings. Drugs, sex, and violence oozing off every page, yet still, I found it remarkably tedious rea ...more
Good God it's hard to rate this book.

I read it when I was about 17/18, and I devoured it in about 24 hours. I loved that some of the narrative was almost stylised around the characters, as if the characters influenced the writing style. At the time I thought it was absolutely brilliant - I hadn't experienced or read many books that dealt with drugs or sex in such a frank, open way.

I think my adventure into books that dealt with those topics was almost my way of experiencing drugs and sex. I exp
Pro: The chapters were short.
Con: There were no simpathetic characters.
Pro: Lots of sex and drugs.
Con: Only sex and drugs.

Overall: It started off interesting and I was intrigued by the direction their weekend seemed to be heading, but by Saturday night I just didn't care anymore. It was the same thing over and over and I didn't like any of the characters. I think Amis' point was that the characters are all a bit deplorable, but it made me not care what happened to them.
Pretty sophomoric throughout, at times funny and/or clever, but not particularly memorable or affecting. Has mostly caricatures, rather than characters. Grotesques, actually. However, one scene near the end was actually quite excellent and memorable and funny and illuminating and utterly unlike anything else in the book, and it will no doubt stick with me for a while. Thus the four stars.
Ross Law
Rich narcissistic drugs addicts lounge around, fuck lasciviously, say nasty things to one another, harangue an elderly couple, and shoot crows because it's fun.
In this early novel Amis tries to establish a vague theme by having one of the characters mention dead babies now and again. but really there's nothing worthwhile going on here.
Trite and pretentious, the worst I've read by Amis, whose writing I like quite a lot.
If you're sick of the Rimbaud reading, coke-snorting brats seen in anything by
A satirical black comedy featuring a group of privileged 20-somethings staying at Appleseed Rectory for a weekend of drug- and alcohol-fuelled debauchery. All of the characters are pretty horrible people in one way or another and, as the weekend goes on, individual and petty rivalries take on more sinister elements. 6/10.
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Boxall's 1001 Bo...: June {2009} Discussion -- DEAD BABIES by Martin Amis 26 288 Aug 19, 2009 11:59AM  
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Martin Amis is an English novelist, essayist and short story writer. His works include the novels Money, London Fields and The Information.

The Guardian writes that "all his critics have noted what Kingsley Amis [his father] complained of as a 'terrible compulsive vividness in his style... that constant demonstrating of his command of English'; and it's true that the Amis-ness of Amis will be recog
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“By 12.30, Giles had consumed five gin-rickies, four gin-and-tonics, three gin-and-its, two gin-and-bitters, and one gin.” 1 likes
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