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Lionel Aso : Dit is Engeland by Martin Amis
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Lionel Aso : Dit is Engeland (edition 2012)

by Martin Amis, Reintje Ghoos (Translator), Jan Pieter Van der Sterre (Translator)

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2531345,261 (3.55)26
Member:Frits
Title:Lionel Aso : Dit is Engeland
Authors:Martin Amis
Other authors:Reintje Ghoos (Translator), Jan Pieter Van der Sterre (Translator)
Info:Amsterdam Atlas 2012
Collections:Gelezen
Rating:***
Tags:roman, Engeland

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Lionel Asbo: State of England by Martin Amis

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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
I can't help thinking that if you intend to write a satirical book subtitled 'State of England' it would be helpful if you had some idea of what that state actually was. And with this book by Martin Amis, the reader gets the distinct impression that the author is very hazy indeed about lives lived outside the metropolitan elite, let alone in the type of London council estate where it is largely set. His research seems to have largely been culled from the worst set of stereotypes pedalled by the likes of the Daily Mail, reinforced by hazy memories of sitcoms from the 1960s and 70s. There's definitely a shadow of Alf Garnett in one of the characters. But nowhere do any characters that are actually believable make an appearance.

Originally named Lionel Peppardine, Lionel Asbo had changed his name by deed poll to celebrate his record as the youngest ever person to be given at ASBO (anti-social behaviour order) at the age of three. By his early twenties he is making a living at the more violent end of the debt collection industry, with his two pitbulls as the tools of his trade. Living with him is his fifteen year old nephew Des, for whom Lionel has been nominally in charge of ever since hismother's death three years previously, but Des is a very different sort of person, quiet, studious and gentle. But Des does have a guilty secret - an affair with an older woman - who happens to be his thirty-nine year old grandmother Grace - and Lionel is not going to be happy when he finds out.

I didn't like this book. Admittedly, it's not really my sort of book, too violent, but it could have been so much better if there was any sense that the author had any insight into what he was talking about. ( )
  SandDune | May 22, 2015 |
The writing is excellent and energetic. The title character, Lionel Asbo, is a somewhat clich̩d British thug who is a ruthless and brutally violent criminal but also has his own odd sort of moral compass and intelligence. But Lionel Asbo is also a living, breathing, person--nearly as much alive as any contemporary author is able to conjure. And his counterpoint, his orphan nephew and adopted son Des, who is more interested in learning than crime and disappoints his uncle by using his computer for things other than porn, makes for an effective counterpoint. The plot is nothing to brag about, and some of it is painfully clich̩d, but it still stays with you in a powerful way that most books do not.

Lionel Abso is a resident of a the fictional London borough of Diston. He is the seventh of seven children (and shares a father with the first, and only with the first). He is a debt collector, thief, and ruffian--aided by two dogs fed a diet of Tabasco Sauce and alcohol. He is raising his nephew Des. The first hundred or so pages is their normal lives together, plus Des's affair with his grandmother (and the fact that his grandmother is in her late thirties doesn't make it any better), and the tension that runs through the entire book of whether Lionel will figure it out.

Then about a quarter of the way through Lionel wins 140 million pounds in the lottery, and as wastefully as he starts blowing through it he accumulates money even more quickly with his investments, ending up with what the book hints is billions. He moves from hotel suite to hotel suite, buys himself a garish estate, garish cars, a garish footballers wife girlfriend, and the rest.

Some of the scenes are pretty standard, although Amis executes many of them hilariously (a bruising fight between Lionel and a lobster, as he attempts to deshell and eat it, for example). Others are completely unique, like what Lionel portrays as his touching love for his "Mum," who he "thoughtfully" puts away in an old age home, oblivious to Des's pointing out that she's only about forty. All of which comes together in an vicious, biting indictment of both poverty and wealth, of Diston and of the amoral, pointlessness of their attempts to find fun and meaning. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
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 old! Right, a younger man. This fellow goes by the name of Rory Nightingale and Lionel does discover his affair with Gran. Of course, Des is both crushed and relieved to hear the news. Then Lionel wins a £140 million state lottery, providing much needed distraction for poor Des. But then Des and his new love, Dawn, have a marvelously described baby: Cilla. (Fantastic description of this baby and much else) which serves only to redouble his anxiety. Martin Amis writes with all the skill and assurance we're accustomed to from so many other fine books, but his style here is as compressed as I've ever seen it. (There are many beautifully compressed pages in Amis. Night Train, to cite just one example, springs most readily to mind.) Amis has always been a great admirer of Vladimir Nabokov, but I think this is the first time he's written a book that echoes that master's peculiarly arch, lean, and very compressed method so well. I speak here merely in terms of narrative compression, mind you, not style. Amis style is unique. As in the unjustly maligned Yellow Dog and to a more limited extent in London Fields, he has a field day with British dialect and slang. He's a master of it, of that there's no question. However, his penchant dialect and slang can really slow down the non-British reader. Agreed, not every book should go down like Simenon, but having to Google a reference every page two can be a drag. If we are to view the novel as dream, these unquestionably enriching quirks of Amis's, it can be argued, slow the dream down, inhibit it. It's too bad, especially in a book that is in every other respect so sprightly, so headlong and fun. I don't fault Amis. He can only write what he can write. However, my own favorite Amis novels have much less of such encryption: Money, The Information, House of Meetings and London Fields. Highly recommended. ( )
  William345 | Jun 11, 2014 |
Meet Martin Amis’ new hero Lionel Asbo: petty crook, sociopath with a misplaced sense of moral outrage, scourge of society, and ward to his mixed-race nephew Desmond Pepperdine. Following huge lottery win, Lionel is transformed from a figure of ridicule, to beloved eccentric by the press. The reader is caught up in the transformation and begins to wonder, “Did I misjudge Lionel?” No, you didn’t!
  vplprl | Dec 4, 2013 |
This the first novel I have read by Martin Amis. I have always been aware of him but just now got around to reading something by him. I was very impressed by his narrative style and creative prose. Although I usually do not hold the negative aspects of a lead character against the worth of the book, I did have trouble with Lionel Asbo's unrelenting evil. The novel would have worked better for me had there been some character transformation. The book was not very long but still managed to drag a bit in the middle. I found this a good introduction to Amis and I will try to read his better reviewed books but I can't stay that I am ready to run out and read all of his previous work. ( )
  nivramkoorb | Aug 15, 2013 |
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Epigraph
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?
Dedication
Voor Christopher Hitchens
For Christopher Hitchens
First words
Lieve Jennaveieve,
Ik heb een relatie met een oudere vrouw.
Dear Jennaveieve,
    I am having an affair with an older woman.
Quotations
As the land flattened out towards the pasture, and as the horses now nobly loomed, he came to a deep trench perhaps twenty feet across. Within was a thrill ride of twirling razor wire; it squirmed like a barber's pole, and faintly crackled.
The air itself was thick. Thick and weak, as if the room was about to faint.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307958086, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:33 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A satire of modern society and celebrity culture finds the seemingly simple pursuits of young Desmond Pepperdine hampered by his uncle Lionel's near-criminal habits, which become more prominent when Lionel wins the lottery.

(summary from another edition)

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