Lionel Asbo (2012) by Martin Amis is a novel where Amis returns to his fantasy world of an exaggerated modern Britain with an emphasis on the underclass. It’s a fantastic, crazy tale that anyone who gets Amis will like but those who don’t will be horrified by.
The book centres on Lionel Asbo, an violent petty-criminal and his nephew Des. The plot is preposterous and the characters are wonderful lampooning creations that hurtle around brought to live by Amis’ amazing prose.
There is something in reading Amis that is reminiscent of Salman Rushdie. Both are superb writers but both have written masterpieces that their defined their style and that later books somehow have to be compared to previous efforts.
The book isn’t quite as good as London Fields, The Information or Money but it is a gentler read. Anyone who wonders what people see in Amis might be well advised to start with Lionel Asbo in order to see if he is to taste. For those who do appreciate him Lionel Asbo will be a hoot.