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Lionel Asbo: State of England

3.32  ·  Rating details ·  3,870 ratings  ·  591 reviews
Librarian's Note: it's an alternate cover edition - ISBN: 9780099582052
Paperback, 276 pages
Published May 2013 by Vintage (first published June 7th 2012)
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3.32  · 
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 ·  3,870 ratings  ·  591 reviews

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This book made me such a nervous wreck that I developed a facial tic and had to take antacids while I was reading it.

Desmond Pepperdine is a 15 year old lad living in a very rough part of England where life expectancies are short and violence is common. Des is a bright and gentle boy with a big secret. His 39 year old grandmother Grace has seduced him, and Des is worried that his uncle Lionel will find out.

Lionel took Des in after his mother died a few years earlier. Des loves ‘Uncle Li’, but he
Dec 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 1998, British Government (under Tony Blair) introduced the Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) - an act which meant to correct minor incidents which would normally not result in criminal punishment - from loudswearing, loitering and beging to public sex and even urban exploration. During the general elections of 2010, future Prime Minister David Cameron promixed to fix "Broken Britain", and after taking office spoke eloquently but harshly about what he perceived to be failure of multiculturali ...more
Aug 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk, fiction, 21-ce
Lionel Asbo is a bad thief. He spends long stretches in jail. He's in and he's out, a recidivist. Lionel's nephew, Desmond, is at fifteen years of age seduced by his grandmother, Grace, thirty-nine. It is Des's guilt about this incestuous relationship, and his fear of what Uncle Li (lie not lee) might do if he finds out, that shapes Des's character in early adulthood, which is pretty much the span of the novel. Fortunately, Gran breaks off the affair with Des in order to seduce a fourteen year o ...more
Dec 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Amis can write the darkest satire with a lyrical heart that beats with warm, soft blood. 'Lionel ASBO' is sad, funny, gratuitous, sick and full of life. It is like a Dickens novel was written by William Burroughs.

Covered in grit, the characters in this Amis novel seem at first like bizarre 21st century, Cruikshank caricatures that just keep bouncing back and forth in my head between the real, the surreal and the unreal -- so I keep on doubting my own palsied view of the world.

Anywho, this nove
Jan 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My favorite Martin Amis novel since The Information. Lionel Asbo is the Martin Amis of London Fields and Money : dazzling prose, vicious animals, demented, ugly people, violence, and of course, a filthy, harrowing London juxtaposed to a glittering, money's-no-object London. Surprisingly, though, there is a beautiful flip-side to Amis' trademark hilarity and disgust, found in the character of Desmond, a thoughtful teenage boy who longs for peace, knowledge, and love (and who is having an affair w ...more
Aug 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british
well, I am going to take issue with most of the reviewers, who are disappointed in this book. The Guardian, of course, loathes it, and Amis, but then they always have, because he and his writing reject their easy, and stupid, certainties. But I in my turn was disappointed with UK reviewers, who use phrases like "satirical sideswipe at the underclass", and one says that the class of people portrayed is so easy to send up that Amis is shooting fish in a barrel. None of them have understood this bo ...more
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One year ago the London Riots left Tottenham essentially a smoldering crime scene and the first match of the Premier League at White Heart Lane was postponed via the police investigation. The motivations and manifestations of the yob and his deeds lie at the core of Lionel Asbo . The credit crunch and News Corp also find their faces bashed in Amis's acerbic romp. I found the novel something I wished to protect, something to shield from our reptile natures and our cannibalistic rituals of conveni ...more
Jul 17, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If your experience of 21st century culture includes a lot of reality television, tabloid scandal, celebrity exposé, paparazzi photos... atrocious lapses that center on race, sport, wardrobe, sex, cosmetic surgery, drunk driving, pit bulls, lavish overspending -- anything crassly vulgar and exploitative --- you probably still won't like this novel, but you'll get a lot of what you like along the way.

And Martin Amis doesn't want you to like it; he wants it to stand as an aggressive, warts-plus do
Paul Gleason
Jun 21, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Bear with me. In 1976, Bob Dylan released Desire; in 1997, he released Time Out of Mind. In the twenty one years between these records, he released a plethora of disappointingly mediocre and, in some cases, downright bad albums. Have you ever heard Down in the Groove? Case in point.

But in 1997, Dylan experienced a renaissance. Time Out of Mind was a first-rate album, and Dylan, who's inarguably one of the most important American musicians of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, hasn't looke
Oct 28, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If there was an option not to rate this, I would take it.

Possibly the most disappointing reading experience I have had for years. Amis is a hero of mine. I adore the man with a passion: I have even described him as the best writer this country has produced in two hundred years. Reading this brought tears to my eyes.

The most bullying, mean spirited and cynical exercise in ex-patriate carping it is possible to imagine. Nausea is the instinctive response. Followed by sadness.

Yes, I have huge issu
Sam Quixote
Jun 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Martin Amis' latest novel "Lionel Asbo" is a satirical character portrait of a kind of personality emergent in 21st century Britain: loud, brash, thuggish, stupid, fame-driven and greedy. Lionel is a man who's so proud of his thug background that he's changed his surname from Pepperdine to Asbo (Anti-Social Behaviour Order), of which he's collected many starting at the record-breaking age of 2.

The squalid township he inhabits is the imaginary Diston where nobody lives to their 60s and many women
Oct 29, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lionel Asbo is an ill-educated, skinhead; a (not very successful) criminal, with two ferocious dogs and a native intelligence that makes him a formidable enemy. He hails from Dilston, an area of London where twelve year old girls are routinely pregnant, and if you live to forty you’re deemed to have had a rich and successful life. Lionel himself is much bigger and more thuggish than life and dominates any room he enters, so that when he wins a huge amount of cash on the lottery it’s impossible f ...more
Andrew Tolve
Disappointing really. And in terrible need of an edit. There were times when the prose soared or when the sneering thuggish stupidity of Lionel Asbo was endearing and brutal and funny and savage, or when the frame story of a London thug becoming a lotto lout was enjoyably engaging, but on the whole the book had too much and too little. Too much of glossing over years, when nothing of note happened, or when lots of things happened yet were reduced to one liners. And too little of real character d ...more
Oct 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
LIONEL ASBO: State of England. (2012). Martin Amis. ****.
Amis has managed to write a satire that explores the depths of a family relationship in a manner that reminds you of writers from Fielding to Waugh. The family lives in a small backwater village in England named Diston or Diston Town. It’s full of people on welfare who live in subsidized housing. Most of them are out of work. Most of them drink too much. Most of them have long prison records. The family in question is that of Grace. At th
Aug 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Martin Amis. 5 stars. Always. I'm curious to read the other goodreads reviews of 'Lionel Asbo' because I think if you're not very very familiar with London, or very very interested in London accents, I think this would be a very different book. I'm not saying you HAVE to be familiar with London - it's just that I was always "hearing" Lionel as he spoke, and one of the things I love so much about Martin Amis ( and Kingsley Amis ) is his ear for exact pronunciation. Much of the comedy for me (and ...more
Kieran Mcmahon
People love Martin Amis; The Guardian's Nicola Barker drools over the ‘the withering coruscation of his writerly stare’ and declares that ‘Amis is the daddy’. The Telegraph's David Annand calls him ‘stylistically unmatched’, The New Statesman's Leo Robson describes him as ‘the most ambitious, seductive and, at 62, promising English novelist of his generation’, Tim Martin speaks of his ‘dazzling catwalk sentences’ and Olivia Cole proclaims ‘there really is only one Martin Amis and like it or not, ...more
Dec 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mitch Hedberg used to joke that people either liked him, hated him, or thought he was okay. Given Martin Amis’ penchant for satire utilizing characters who are unlikable grotesques, it’s safe to say there aren’t many people in the third category for his novels. In his latest, Lionel Asbo, he’s kind enough to divide people right from the book’s opening lines, which describe Desmond (“Des”), a 15-year-old boy, having an affair with his 39-year-old grandmother, Grace. The affair is short-lived, but ...more
Will Ansbacher

In need of some light relief, I turned to the highly-acclaimed Lionel Asbo. The setting is Diston, a bleak and wasted London suburb; Lionel is a thuggish lout with two pitbulls to help him in his unspecified “business”; his foil is his saccharine-sweet nephew Des, (although he does have a dark secret that he is desperate to keep from Lionel) and Des’s relationship with the equally-cloying Dawn.

This is a satire on the current State of England, so should be sharp and make you laugh a lot. And alt
Dec 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know this book has been generally panned if not blasted by the reviewers but I enjoyed it very much. I have always been a Martin Amis fan though I have also criticized a fair number of his books myself. This one I found genuinely fascinating. The basic storyline is that a nasty thug wins the lottery in between his many prison terms. When I read the reviews I pictured this guy as a colorful petty thief who might be redeemed by the great windfall. I was surprised to discover that he was a really ...more
Jan 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One detail I loved: the title character, Lionel Asbo, dates a woman names "Threnody" (the quotation marks are part of the name). We learn that the press sometimes refers to them as Thrionel, or even "Thr"ionel. "Thr"ionel is fantastic!
Ron Charles
Nov 13, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Martin Amis recently abandoned London for Brooklyn, and now he’s published a satire of Britain’s moral decrepitude subtitled “State of England.” Just a coincidence, Amis claims, but naturally the Brits are feeling a bit stung by this one-two punch. And if “Lionel Asbo” is the sort of ham-fisted novel we get in the bargain, maybe we should send him back.

Amis’s previous offering, “The Pregnant Widow,” was a flawed book laced with one brilliant, witty sentence after another. Unfortunately, “Lionel
Jun 22, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: modern fiction fans, Martin Amis readers, social thinkers
Is this book a social satire or a modern fairytale? A work of entertaining fiction or an attempt to tackle some of the prevalent issues of modern British society? Perhaps it can be all of those.

'Lionel Asbo' is a novel from an author who seems to never fail to stoke up some kind of sentiment and comment -- be it positive or negative. It becomes apparent from the first chapter that you, as a reader, are in the hands of an exquisite and masterful writer whose understanding of language is above and
May 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very enjoyable novel, despite what it's about. The cover flap informs me that Amis is living in Brooklyn. This is downright shocking and surreal. Rather than hearing that Joyce lived in Trieste, it's more like hearing something crazy - like Orwell lived in San Francisco (he didn't) or Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World while vacationing in Hawaii (he didn't), or that the novels of Evelyn Waugh were actually just senior high school class projects by the graduating class of Akron, Ohio, over th ...more
Chris Gager
Sep 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just started last night, going from "Jane Eyre" to this. Quite a change but we're still in England, just in a different "part". Very entertaining so far and surprisingly poignant. All the lingo is a bit dense to an American and I suspect to many English people too. No doubt MA owes a debt to Anthony Burgess...

rogan josh - Persian lamb dish

I could have sworn that Mean Mr. Mustard kept a ten-MARK(not bob) note up his nose... Oh well? Acc. to the interweb it is "bob," but I'm holding out.

What doe
Lisa Beaulieu
Oh Martin Amis! He's funny, he's angry, he's cynical, he's got an eye for the absurdity of modern life - what's not to love? Sadly for me, this book. I liked it, yes. But Lionel himself is so terrifying, I could not enjoy the humor (and there's alot of humor that I saw, but just couldn't laugh at, as I was too busy trembling.) There is a scene with Lionel and a lobster that had me gasping for breath laughing - but that was the only one - I guess because poor Desmond was nowhere to be found in th ...more
Mick O'Dwyer
Jul 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this while on a break in Cumbria, far from the concrete peripheries of Lionel Asbo's world; those blocky towers of faulty lifts and sodden pisswells of historical insignificance. I hadn't read Amis before, so this was a wonderfully spiteful introduction to his work. Asbo's a thoroughly distasteful character, full of short rages and indignant justification and petty selfishness. There is a fascination with watching someone get everything they want, only to discover that it leaves them numb t ...more
Bruce Roderick
Aug 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On a recent interview I heard Martin Amis say, "When one examines my writing they will notice that one thing I never write about is the middle-class. I have no interest in the middle-class. I either write about the upper-class or the criminal element of society." I won't expand on the plot or characters since enough people have done that here already, but I will say that this book was much more engaging and enjoyable than THE PREGNANT WIDOW. LIONEL ASBO: STATE OF ENGLAND was far more enjoyable t ...more
May 11, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Mean-spirited and apoplectically cynical about exactly the wrong things, this -- like 'Money' -- runs on the engine of Martin Amis' smouldering grudge against all those who have more money than Martin Amis despite not being as smart and erudite as Martin Amis. Case in point: the eponymous Lionel -- who chose his own surname, and who is physically likened to Wayne Rooney right at the outset -- checks into a hotel frequented by rock stars and rich sportsmen, summarised as 'rich and famous; and non ...more
Ellie Danisch
Jan 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In many ways, I still don't know what to make of Martin's Amis' scathingly, satirical, and controversial novel, 'Lionel Asbo: State of England'. Asbo being an acronym for Anti Social Behavior Order and it's provocative subtitle, State of England, being SUCH a savage, uncontrolled and splenetic attack on our modern culture, and with it's tabloid obsession with celebrities, wealth, and even sex. The novel itself attempts to satirize the vulgarity of our culture, with then in turn the novel becomes ...more
Aug 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i thought this was a brilliant book. i read the whole thing in one sitting, i didn't even get up from the couch, so i highly recommend it.not for the faint of heart though.
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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 reco
“Who let the dogs in? ...This, we fear, is going to be the question. Who let the dogs in? Who let the dogs in? Who? Who?” 19 likes
“Des heard the dogs. They weren't barking, he realized, not exactly. They were swearing. And the rooftop rottweilers, faintly and almost plaintively, at this distance, were swearing back:
'FUCKOFF!' yelled Joe, or Jeff. It was almost a monosyllable.
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