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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Asbo, no change, 30 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Lionel Asbo: State of England (Hardcover)
Lionel Asbo is an oik and although he wins the lottery he remains essentially the same in and out of prison. He wins a lot of money and the floodgates of wealth open, but the style and behaviour of the past rear the ugly heads. He is just able to indulge his vendettas on a grander scale using fear and prostitution to meet his own ends. Nobody seems able to escape his malign influence. Not even Desmond and Dawn with their university degrees, parental skills and careers.
Before reading it I had hoped for some kind of insight into the underclass, some sort of grid reference beyond the expected drunkenness, aimless violence and pornography. After all Martin Amis has deigned to write a novel about it and I thought he might throw up some redeeming half light, some forgotten truths perhaps. But he is able to evade that responsibility, that particular challenge, by letting Asbo win the lottery. From then on the task of the novellist is easier, the theme of mispent wealth overtakes and smothers the theme of coping and managing in a misbegotten and downtrodden place like Diston Town.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 1 Sep 2012 17:06:13 BDT
T. S. C. says:
You wrote: 'Before reading it I had hoped for some kind of insight into the underclass, some sort of grid reference beyond the expected drunkenness, aimless violence and pornography.' Is Amis in fact writing about an 'underclass' or is he in fact writing about the working class in general? What does a privileged upper-middle class individual who is no doubt privately educated and has had every advantage in life throughout his life that his position in life affords, really know about working class people, or 'underclass' people for that matter? All he will know is stereotypes, the types of people that pop up in the news now and again, the real misfits that can be found anywhere and in any walk of life, but that seem to be despised if they are 'working class.' If Lionel Asbo was a Black person or disabled or something else, all those concerned trendy placard-waving white middle class people would be outraged, but it's okay to demonise white working class people and make unfair sweeping generalisations. Most working class people are just ordinary people trying as best they can to get on and get by in life. What makes so many middle class people so full of themselves and so snobbish and pompous and self-important? Shall I tell you? It's called the class system and this prejudice needs tackling as any other ill-conceived notion needs to.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Sep 2012 20:57:19 BDT
Last edited by the author on 4 Sep 2012 21:03:09 BDT
Thank you for your comment. I don't know whether Martin Amis is snobbish, pompous or self-important or not but somehow I doubt it. What is important though is that he's a novellist, and as such able to transcend the limitations of his upbringing and class, just as good novellist like Orwell and Dickens were able to invest themselves in various characters of various classes .Whether Amis succeeds here or not is of course open to question, but one should read the novel and give him a fair hearing without be-fuddling one's judgement with preconception and prejudice.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Sep 2012 23:20:41 BDT
T. S. C. says:
Thank you for that intelligent reply. Yes, I did overstate my case somewhat! Maybe if someone buys me it as a present I will review it fairly and hopefully without prejudice. (and we all have them I suppose)

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Sep 2012 21:05:48 BDT
Last edited by the author on 17 Sep 2012 21:07:47 BDT
I hope you do receive it as a present and I would be very interested to read your review. I think I overstated my case as well!
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