Paperback review: Lionel Asbo, By Martin Amis


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The Independent Culture

Martin Amis's latest, set in the working-class purlieus of “Diston”, concerns Lionel Asbo, lotto-winning oik, and his nephew, Des. Having slept with his granny (Lionel's mother) as a teenager, Des fears that Asbo will discover his secret – and set the pitbulls on him.

Never mind that Amis might have found a more appropriate comedic target, in these grim times, than uppity proles. It's the complacency here that grates – the way Amis's brilliant language services a plot boasting all the satirical sophistication of a Little Britain sketch. Geoff Dyer once pointed out the gap between Amis's “linguistic power” and the “relative banality of his thought”. With this novel the gap has widened to a chasm. It's depressing to see our greatest stylist put the fine instrument of his prose to such crude, bludgeoning, reactionary use.