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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Depraved, Farcical, Funny, Vivid but makes the uptight livid
Very different from anything else in his oeuvre. Far faster paced and much more richly comedic than his other early works (which it is one of - maybe the web site should show the first publication date of a book to put an authors output in "historical" context). Far less bloated and pretentious than his later works, the humour and social comment is "in...
Published on 22 Jan. 1999

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't Let The Title Put You Off
`Dead Babies' has to be one of the most off putting titles of a book that I can think of, though undoubtedly there are some other horrors out there. The image it instantly brings you isn't pleasant; there are no dead babies actually in the book though I can report there are some decidedly unpleasant characters. The premise of Martin Amis' second novel, originally...
Published on 7 July 2010 by Simon Savidge Reads


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Depraved, Farcical, Funny, Vivid but makes the uptight livid, 22 Jan. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Dead Babies (Paperback)
Very different from anything else in his oeuvre. Far faster paced and much more richly comedic than his other early works (which it is one of - maybe the web site should show the first publication date of a book to put an authors output in "historical" context). Far less bloated and pretentious than his later works, the humour and social comment is "in your face" and all the more refreshing for it; it won't win literary prizes but it will make you laugh out load more than any other Amis work (Kingsley or Mart). "Dead Babies" is fast paced whilst delivering crackling comedy on every page. Much more exuberance than you expect from Mart, reflecting his youth (when he wrote it) and giving a true taste of how you behave when you are young and feel invulnerable, all of life, especially the seedier aspects, are there to be enjoyed. Revel in characters that are grotesque caricatures, relish farcical humour with a manic intensity. As a special bonus, although some of his common neuroses seep through (especially the teeth!), they prove humorous rather than the usual tedious / depressing.
Dead babies themselves are not really a feature of the novel - just in case the name was putting anyone off.
Any book where the two most sympathetic characters are (in order) a large grazing mammal and a grossly overweight sex obsessed dwarf has to be a bit different from your average novel.
Buy and read the version here but if you can (maybe Amazon's out of print book find feature will help you - unfortunatelylet you. Find the old version (unfortunately not the cover shown on the reissue version Web page) and the paperback cover illustration may offend people / cause shady characters to come up to you offering various substances for sale - maybe Amazon's out of print book find feature will let you.
One drawback of this book is that without a certain cultural perspective / certain life experiences then a lot of the nuances can easily remain unappreciated (still that sentence holds true for most books).
Personally I don't find it shocking or offensive, you need a very narrow view of life or a humour bypass to be offended by this book - if it offends you have not really understood the joke, however if you are of a frail mental disposition read the warning below and avoid pain: Avoid this book if you have a phobia of dentists, worry about the dangers of tight shoes, dislike drugs, are offended by sex, physical cruelty, mental cruelty, dwarf abuse, self abuse or bovine abuse.
If you wake up and think; I fancy hot knives for breakfast/ time for a quick Sherman/ who's room is this/ who am I/ what did I do last night/ where did all that blood come from / I'm sure it wasn't septic yesterday/ Oh joy a visit to the dentist today/ 3 PM - still a bit early to get out of bed/ where are my Rizlas ... etc then you will probably quite enjoy this book.
Depending on which aspects of Martin Amis you most prefer then "Dead Babies" will either be your favorite or the most loathed of his works, I certainly "know what I like" - if I could only own one book by Mart this would be it.
FEEL FREE TO EDIT THIS TO FIT YOUR REVIEW GUIDELINES, ASPECTS OF THIS REVIEW ARE WRITTEN WITHIN THE SPIRIT OF THE BOOK BUT MAY BE REMOVED IF DEEMED OFFENSIVE
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heeere's Johnny!, 7 April 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Dead Babies (Paperback)
Some 15 years before Bret Easton Ellis caused controversy with his book, "American Psycho", about loveless sex, hard drugs and bloody slaughter amoung the young and well-heeled, Martin Amis was covering similar ground with this early novel about a group of jaded, emotionally stunted nihilists who live in a castle inherited from rich, but otherwise despised parents, and spend their time indulging in hard drugs, porn and orgies - and the occassional philosophical debate - little realising that one of them is a deranged killer, who could snap at any minute.
At first the tone is one of black comedy as we meet the residents of Appleseed Rectory including Quentin, the urbane host, Andy, a casual misogynist, Giles, (Amis' alter-ego) entirely consumed by an obsession with teeth, Lucy, a good-natured whore and Keith, a frustrated, self-pitying dwarf and resident dogsbody. But after some American guests come to stay for the weekend, the novel starts to take on a darker tone as, one by one, the Appleseeder's begin to receive a series of disturbingly twisted letters which seem to pin-point their most deeply hidden fears. The notes are ominously signed "Johnny". Who in the house is "Johnny"? Amis keeps you guessing until the bloody end, and the way his identity is revealed is brilliantly effective and truely frightening.
Written in the mid-70's, "Dead Babies" reflects a time when the spaced out optimism of the swinging '60's was turning sour. The ideologies of love and peace had become to be seen as empty-headed mush - the very term "hippie" a term of abuse - and the time was right for the angry nihilism of punk, which was just around the corner. This atmosphere is reflected in the book and it hasn't mellowed with time. Apparantly there is set to be a film made of the book - after years of failed attempts. If faithful to the book, it's got all the makings of a rare darkly comic cult British movie.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars scarily engrossing, 8 Sept. 2004
This review is from: Dead Babies (Paperback)
this book's subject material is not something that would ordinarily have interested me. however, amis' style of writing is so completely phenomonal i could not put it down. i still cant quite put my finger on what it is i like so much about the way he writes.
the narrative, however, is not one for the faint hearted. some absolutely cringe worthy scenes make for interesting, if not slightly jaw grinding, reading. the characters are all ott and wonderful at being so. great twist at the end. i didnt sleep with the lights on but it certainly made me gasp! also have to watch out for the chaptering, amis uses an awesome technique!
all in all an amazing read. if u read any amis and enjoy it i guarntee you will read them all, i know im hooked!
two words: buy it!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Street Sadness..., 26 Sept. 2002
By 
This review is from: Dead Babies (Paperback)
Martin Amis is at his (unparalleled) best when unleashing his pen on his most obnoxious, repellent characters: Keith Flint, Gwen Barry... In this disturbing and cruelly funny tale he puts nine such people in a country house, and has a good and spiteful time screwing around with them. His descriptive prose is typically breathtaking; Little Keith's initial description is one of the funniest (and nastiest) passages i have ever read.
Buy this book. The ending made me gasp - I had to sleep with the lights on after I finished it. Be warned.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mordant wit abounds, 1 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Dead Babies (Paperback)
In Amis' second novel, his repellent cast of drug users, sexual deviants and sociopaths spends a weekend at Appleseed Rectory that would have shamed Bacchus. With characteristically acerbic and mordant wit, some aggressively youthful disregard for literary and social propriety, and a flair for economical and yet descriptive prose, Amis' sledgehammer approach leaves the reader aghast but eager for more of the same. With the vile Keith as the masochistic and odious fulcrum around which the action revolves, violent absurdity abounds in this incendiary and twisted book. It requires a strong stomach, but the rewards are rich indeed. Plus, there's a killer twist!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still able to shock..., 9 May 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Dead Babies (Paperback)
Concerned with events that took place a quarter of a century ago, this book does initially seem a little dated. The casual attitudes towards sex, drugs and violence were probably losing their power to shock even then, and are now so widespread in our more jaded society that they could almost be seen as routine. Don't let any of this put you off! A uniformly unpleasant cast of characters will draw you in despite your scepticism, and the final revelation is genuinely shocking. At the risk of ending up in 'Pseud's Corner', I can honestly say it made me shiver as I read it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't be put off by hippies bearing drugs, 9 April 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Dead Babies (Paperback)
Dead Babies lay on my bookshelf for months, gathering dust - everytime I scanned the shelves in search of an unread volume I always seemed to skip this book in favour of a later Amis, an Ian McEwan, even (for the third time) Emily Bronte's novel. I don't know exactly what held me back - possibly a feeling that it wouldn't stand up against Money or The Information, as it was only Amis's second book, ergo less accomplished.
I needn't have worried. A roughly-hewn clatter of annoying Yanks, languid toffs, aggressive proles, loose women and stunted neurotics spend a weekend in a large house getting ***** and ***** up to the eyeballs (insert terms of one's own choosing).
The book has a beginning, a middle and an end and is one of Amis's most "straightforward" works (for less straightforward see Other People or Times Arrow).
And Little Keith is a scream. I will never forget his weeping feet and Giles's mouth of the dead and dying.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't Let The Title Put You Off, 7 July 2010
This review is from: Dead Babies (Paperback)
`Dead Babies' has to be one of the most off putting titles of a book that I can think of, though undoubtedly there are some other horrors out there. The image it instantly brings you isn't pleasant; there are no dead babies actually in the book though I can report there are some decidedly unpleasant characters. The premise of Martin Amis' second novel, originally published in 1975, is that a group of friends are in a house on the more rural outskirts of London for a weekend of drug and sex filled chaos with some American friends arriving in tow. Somewhere in the midst of this a mysterious character `Johnny' is causing an unsettling feeling through the group, already beyond paranoid from their concoctions, by leaving evil messages and gifts. That pretty much sums up the book without giving anything away.

In writing about the book like that it doesn't sound like its really anything special and unfortunately in some ways it isn't. However I think that is because having read books later published such as Irvine Welsh's `Trainspotting' and the horrifically brilliant `American Psycho' by Brett Easton Ellis the book doesn't read as being as original as it perhaps was at the time, though in the 70's there was a wave of this sort of fiction. What separates it from those other books is a mixture of humour and character history. They are all vile but you find out why, even if on occasion the reasoning behind their mental states is slightly contrived. However, with characters like Giles Coldstream who is obsessed with teeth and the vile and appalling - yet strangely likeable - Keith who when he takes his clothes off makes people vomit and their backgrounds you do find you want to read on.

What really works in `Dead Babies', and makes this an accessible Amis book to my mind, is the humour, because in laughing your head of you do get through some pretty horrific people and their goings on without ever hating the book. I find authors who can write a book with vile lead characters like this and yet make the book enjoyable a rare breed and `Dead Babies' should be applauded for that. I did feel like this was a book set to shock and therefore sell though and despite my personal feelings on Amis (both the pro's and the con's) I did think he was maybe cleverer than that. I also, though I liked it and it creeped me out, didn't see the relevance of the `Johnny' storyline other than purely a plot device to make the book longer and make the reader carry on. That being said I finished it, which was a feat in itself both due to my prior reading of Amis. Plus despite the fact it gets quite uncomfortable amid the tears of laughter in parts its left me open to reading more of his work in the future, especially knowing that Keith Whitehead features in his new book `The Pregnant Widow'.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A somewhat reluctant 4., 23 Aug. 2013
By 
Philip Mayo - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Dead Babies (Paperback)
I find this book hard to rate - I want to give it 5 for the superb style and verbal dexterity. If it were not for the sheer verbal mastery then the content would present as maybe 2 (maybe 1) out of 5. And that is not a prude's comment. This is a very funny novel, very satisfyingly offensive to almost every sacred cow imaginable, but in the end was not particulary satisfying for me. I doubt if I will read it again. Nevertheless - 4 out of 5.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard-hitting, 1 Oct. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Dead Babies (Paperback)
In Amis's own words his father, Kingsley, disapproved of his son's second book. Probably quite easy to see why; I don't think my Dad would be that chuffed if I offered up something as painstakingly controversial as this. Martin Amis in youthfully cynical mode, full of precocious conceit. Highly enjoyable.
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Dead Babies
Dead Babies by Martin Amis (Paperback - 3 Jun. 2004)
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