Tuesday, 7 May 2013

MARTIN AMIS - LIONEL ASBO


Synopsis/blurb.....

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 fairytale from one of the world's great writers.

Well May’s reading started with a bit of a damp squib. Having previously struggled valiantly with House of Meetings, been subsequently less tortured when reading The Pregnant Widow, albeit falling short of rapturous admiration for Amis, I had higher hopes for this one.

Not the worst book I have ever read, but when I’m long into my dotage, probably a couple of weeks or so from now, I reckon I will have banished this long from the memory. It wasn’t that it was “bad”, in the sense that it was awful, it was just fairly uninteresting. When you can’t empathise with a character, you don’t particularly care how he behaves and what the consequences of such behaviour are. I was bored and irritable when reading it, so bored I had to down tools halfway through and start another book, which by the way was only slightly less boring.

Back to Mr Asbo; an unsuccessful career criminal, from a deprived family, in a deprived area where everyone hates everything and everyone, and expresses the hate through violence and feckless sex and alcohol and drugs. Lionel’s unmarried mother had her first child at 12 years of age and Lionel her 5th or 6th at..........zzzzzzz.

Oops sorry I dozed off there for a minute...............that’s it in a nutshell.

I bored myself reading it, and I’m bored trying to write about it!

Highlights, at less than 300 pages long, I could have been more bored if he had dragged things out. Plus, I borrowed it from the library, so apart from the time wasted I didn’t part with any cash for it. 2 minor plusses, and I’m grateful for small mercies.

On the basis that I didn’t feel like sticking pins in my eyes when reading it, so it can’t qualify as the worst ever book I have had the misfortune to read I will give it a 2 from 5.    

6 comments:

  1. Col - I've read books like that too, where there were no characters who interested me. It's hard to get excited about a novel if you don't really care about the characters.

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    1. Margot, I think you can enjoy a book, even if the plot is implausible if you can relate to a character. In this case, it isn't a book about crime as such, in that there's a start point where something happens and an end point where there's a resolution. It was a book that I suppose in Amis's mind reflects the state of modern Britain, the gulf between the super rich and the poor, the culture of celebrity, but it didn't really go anywhere for me, other than yawnsville.

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  2. Well, I am glad to know I haven't been missing anything... and I don't have to add this book to my wishlist.

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    1. Tracy - it might be handy to have on a bedside table if you suffer from insomnia, otherwise pass it by.

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  3. LOL Col, glad to know I'm not the only reader underwhelmed by Martin Amis. I've not read this title but have struggled through others and came to the conclusion he is not nearly as good a writer as he thinks he is

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    1. Unfortunately Bernadette, I have other books by him unread - more fool me! I'm clinging to the hope that his earlier books were better than his latter ones, but you may just have wrenched that clutched straw from my despairing fingertips! Perhaps I should have tried his father's books instead.

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