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Lionel Asbo: State of England (Vintage International)by Martin Amis
Synopses & Reviews
A savage, funny, and mysteriously poignant saga by a renowned author at the height of his powers.
Lionel Asbo, a terrifying yet weirdly loyal thug (self-named after England's notorious Anti-Social Behaviour Order), has always looked out for his ward and nephew, the orphaned Desmond Pepperdine. He provides him with fatherly career advice (always carry a knife, for example) and is determined they should share the joys of pit bulls (fed with lots of Tabasco sauce), Internet porn, and all manner of more serious criminality. Des, on the other hand, desires nothing more than books to read and a girl to love (and to protect a family secret that could be the death of him). But just as he begins to lead a gentler, healthier life, his uncle—once again in a London prison—wins £140 million in the lottery and upon his release hires a public relations firm and begins dating a cannily ambitious topless model and “poet.” Strangely, however, Lionel's true nature remains uncompromised while his problems, and therefore also Desmond's, seem only to multiply.
Des Pepperdine is a boy out of place. He lives on the thirty-third floor of a London housing project; while his peers pick fights, Des retreats to the public library. What’s more, Des’s uncle and guardian, Lionel Asbo, is one of the most notorious petty criminals in the city. Yet Lionel, full of inept devotion to his nephew, dutifully teaches Des the essentials of becoming a man (always carry a knife; pornography is easier than dating; pit bulls should be fed Tabasco sauce). To survive these lessons, Des seeks solace in a covert romantic union that would fill Lionel with rage. But just as Des begins to lead a healthier life, Lionel wins £140 million in the lottery. The money ushers in a public-relations firm for Lionel, along with a cannily ambitious topless model–poet. Through it all, Lionel remains his vicious, oddly loyal self, and his problems, as well as Des’s, only seem to multiply. By turns outrageous and touching, Lionel Asbo is an exuberant Dickensian satire of crime, celebrity, and modern culture.
About the Author
MARTIN AMIS is the author of twelve previous novels, the memoir Experience, two collections of stories and six of nonfiction. He lives in Brooklyn.
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