Contemporary fiction: The Information and Lionel Asbo, by Martin Amis


I recently read these novels for the third time each, and the results are surprising: The Information is generally regarded as Martin Amis’s finest work, but it’s not as good as it was the first time I read it. Lionel Asbo was badly reviewed, which is to say the reviewers did a bad job (the NY Times’ review by Kathryn Harrison may be the most incompetent, elementary-school review I’ve ever read on any book). Lionel Asbo supposedly falls back on recycled characters and shows that Amis is slipping, but I enjoyed the hell out of it. It was even better on the second reading, and, on the third, I had a right old whale of a time.

I think many reviewers stopped reading (or stopped paying attention) after the first three or four pages of Lionel Asbo. These are indeed quite repulsive and I was immediately worried, on the first encounter, that the book would be an unreadably pornographic disaster. But it doesn’t take much further reading to find out that your first impression is totally wrong. In retrospect, hilariously wrong.

Nabokov once explained that, “curiously enough, one cannot read a book; one can only reread it.” What he means is that, on the first reading, you’re too busy figuring out what the book is about and how it’s structured to get the most out of it. As with an old friend, the first meeting may be something special, but the quality of the time you spend with your friend changes fundamentally once you get to know him. Imagine going through life never meeting any person more than once.

Nabokov was probably the greatest novelist of the 20th century, and almost certainly the greatest stylist. English has more words in it than any other language, has the most possibilities, is the hardest to dominate. But Nabokov did dominate it – even though he called his English “patball to Joyce’s championship game.” Amis has a similar relation to Nabokov – or you could think of him as Egon Schiele to Nabokov’s Klimt. He hasn’t got Nabokov’s spiritual depth. He does have an absolutely crushing technique. His imagery is original and often astonishing – and since art is the job of finding new analogies, Amis ranks among the greatest artists living. His style so enchants the more perceptive reviewers that they can’t help trying to imitate him in their reviews. But when they dip into their haversacks for an Amisean expression they come up empty.

You should read The Information and Lionel Asbo. Ideally, you should read them a few times. The opening paragraph of The Informtation deserves to be learned by heart and recited like poetry. (“Swing low in your weep ship, with your tear scans and your sob probes, and you would mark them….”) And the thing that makes Lionel Asbo so funny, readable and rereadable, was the weakest part of The Information – the criminal character. From The Information’s semi-developed “Scozzy” blossomed the fully-rounded and wonderfully misshapen Lionel, whom I shall enjoy encountering again and again.

The Information:

Enjoyability: 8.5/10

Engagingness: 8/10

Prose: 10/10

Overall Goodness Rating (OGR): 9/10

Lionel Asbo: State of England:

Enjoyability: 9/10

Engagingness: 9/10

Prose: 10/10

Overall Goodness Rating (OGR): 9/10

The Information, by Martin Amis.  Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1995.  494 pages.

Lionel Asbo: State of England, by Martin Amis. Knopf, 2012, 255 pages.

549 thoughts on “Contemporary fiction: The Information and Lionel Asbo, by Martin Amis

  1. Pingback: cialis 10mg
  2. Pingback: cialis 20mg
  3. Pingback: cialis for sale
  4. Pingback: Cost viagra
  5. Pingback: albuterol inhaler
  6. Pingback: cialis 20mg
  7. Pingback: buy viagra
  8. Pingback: naltrzone online
  9. Pingback: cialis cost
  10. Pingback: discount cialis
  11. Pingback: cialis cost
  12. Pingback: tylenol otc
  13. Pingback: chloroquine drug
  14. Pingback: viagra 50mg
  15. Pingback: viagra for sale
  16. Pingback: ed meds online
  17. Pingback: cialis generic
  18. Pingback: levitra price
  19. Pingback: cheap vardenafil
  20. Pingback: real casino online
  21. Pingback: viagra price
  22. Pingback: casino real money
  23. Pingback: slots online
  24. Pingback: cash loans
  25. Pingback: personal loans
  26. Pingback: personal loans
  27. Pingback: viagra for sale
  28. Pingback: generic cialis
  29. Pingback: 777 casino on line
  30. Pingback: cialis 20
  31. Pingback: cheap 100mg viagra
  32. Pingback: 5 mg cialis
  33. Pingback: cialis internet
  34. Pingback: cialis buy
  35. Pingback: slot machines
  36. Pingback: buy viagra online
  37. Pingback: viagra sildenafil
  38. Pingback: canadian viagra
  39. Pingback: buy viagra now
  40. Pingback: Jordan 11 Retro
  41. Pingback: UGG Outlet
  42. Pingback: Yeezy
  43. Pingback: Yeezy
  44. Pingback: UGG
  45. Pingback: Timberland Boots
  46. Pingback:
  47. Pingback: buy cheap viagra
  48. Pingback: cheap sildenafil
  49. Pingback: generic sildenafil
  50. Pingback: viagra vs cialis
  51. Pingback: ciali online
  52. Pingback: viagra prices
  53. Pingback: Cialis 60mg uk
  54. Pingback: viagra for sale
  55. Pingback: sildenafil 25mg nz
  56. Pingback: canadian pharmacy
  57. Pingback: levitra 60mg pills
  58. Pingback: propecia 1mg usa
  59. Pingback: viagra prices
  60. Pingback: pharmacie en ligne
  61. Pingback: cheap real viagra
  62. Pingback: viagra samples
  63. Pingback: tadalafil
  64. Pingback: cialis 10mg
  65. Pingback: cialis bayer
  66. Pingback: cialis vs viagra
  67. Pingback: viagra manchester
  68. Pingback: buy tadalafil
  69. Pingback: free viagra
  70. Pingback: ceclor generic
  71. Pingback: buy viagra
  72. Pingback: order celexa 20 mg
  73. Pingback: order cipro 250 mg
  74. Pingback: claritin canada
  75. Pingback: cheap viagra
  76. Pingback: red dog casino
  77. Pingback: online viagra
  78. Pingback: hollywood casino
  79. Pingback: free slots
  80. Pingback: best casino online
  81. Pingback: slots online
  82. Pingback: gambling casino
  83. Pingback: cialis for sale
  84. Pingback: cialis 20mg pills
  85. Pingback: best insurance car
  86. Pingback: payday loans
  87. Pingback: cheap medications
  88. Pingback: small payday loans
  89. Pingback: viagra cost
  90. Pingback: Discount viagra
  91. Pingback: otc viagra usa
  92. Pingback: real viagra canada
  93. Pingback: buy cleocin 150 mg
  94. Pingback: clomid pharmacy
  95. Pingback: clonidine purchase
  96. Pingback: clozaril nz
  97. Pingback: colchicine cheap
  98. Pingback: buy combivent
  99. Pingback: generic cialis
  100. Pingback: cheapest compazine
  101. Pingback: coumadin 2 mg uk
  102. Pingback: viagra ingredients
  103. Pingback: order cozaar
  104. Pingback: essay writing help
  105. Pingback: cheap viagra
  106. Pingback: ddavp 10 mcg usa
  107. Pingback: depakote australia
  108. Pingback: order diamox 250mg
  109. Pingback: differin tablet
  110. Pingback: cheapest diltiazem
  111. Pingback: viagra
  112. Pingback: dramamine purchase
  113. Pingback: cheapest elavil
  114. Pingback: india pharmacy
  115. Pingback: flomax usa
  116. Pingback: geodon 40mg price
  117. Pingback: cheapest imdur
  118. Pingback: tadalafil for sale
  119. Pingback: cialis buy online
  120. Pingback: cialis daily
  121. Pingback: cialis for sale
  122. Pingback: imodium 2 mg usa
  123. Pingback: viagra doses
  124. Pingback: more information
  125. Pingback: pfizer viagra
  126. Pingback: imuran 25 mg price
  127. Pingback: canadian pharmacy
  128. Pingback: lopressor purchase
  129. Pingback: buy generic viagra
  130. Pingback: how to buy luvox
  131. Pingback: buy macrobid
  132. Pingback: order mestinon
  133. Pingback: buy micardis 40 mg
  134. Pingback: cheap Zovirax
  135. Pingback: mobic coupon
  136. Pingback: periactin 4 mg nz
  137. Pingback: phenergan 25mg usa
  138. Pingback: cheap plaquenil
  139. Pingback: proair inhaler nz
  140. Pingback: cheap viagra
  141. Pingback: provigil generic
  142. Pingback: reglan 10mg tablet
  143. Pingback: remeron for sale
  144. Pingback: robaxin cost
  145. Pingback: seroquel coupon
  146. Pingback: mail order viagra
  147. Pingback: spiriva cost
  148. Pingback: viagra cialis
  149. Pingback: valtrex purchase
  150. Pingback: order vantin
  151. Pingback: voltaren cost
  152. Pingback: cialis women
  153. Pingback: zestril 10mg pills
  154. Pingback: anonymous
  155. Pingback: zocor uk
  156. Pingback: zyloprim coupon
  157. Pingback: furosemide otc
  158. Pingback: glimepiride cost
  159. Pingback: meclizine pharmacy
  160. Pingback: generic viagra
  161. Pingback: olmesartan otc
  162. Pingback: cefuroxime tablets
  163. Pingback: buy celecoxib
  164. Pingback: citalopram price
  165. Pingback: cephalexin tablet
  166. Pingback: cheap cialis
  167. Pingback: loratadine cost
  168. Pingback: cialis buy onilne
  169. Pingback: pharmacies
  170. Pingback: warfarin 1mg pills
  171. Pingback: cost of trazodone
  172. Pingback: bisacodyl 5mg usa
  173. Pingback: generic viagra
  174. Pingback: cheap permethrin
  175. Pingback: buy cialis online
  176. Pingback: safe buy cialis
  177. Pingback: tjdceule
  178. Pingback: etodolac nz
  179. Pingback: top rated ed pills
  180. Pingback: online ed pills
  181. Pingback: tqfmdkyw
  182. Pingback: glipizide 10mg nz
  183. Pingback: furosemide 40 mg
  184. Pingback: 40 viagra online
  185. Pingback: ampicillin price
  186. Pingback: comprar cialis
  187. Pingback: buy cialis
  188. Pingback: cost of viagra
  189. Pingback: generic cefixime
  190. Pingback: cialis generic
  191. Pingback: cialis money order
  192. Pingback: research write
  193. Pingback: terbinafine pills
  194. Pingback: furosemide
  195. Pingback: viagra 100mg price
  196. Pingback: albuterol 63
  197. Pingback: 100mg viagra
  198. Pingback: hcg clomid
  199. Pingback: buy ed drugs
  200. Pingback: neurontin uk
  201. Pingback: genericcialis
  202. Pingback: paxil and tramadol
  203. Pingback: clomid online
  204. Pingback: tadalafil reddit