Lionel Asbo

Dear Jennaveieve,
I’m having an affair with an older woman.

I gave Martin Amis another chance. It started out like I had judged him wrong for The Pregnant Widow, but suddenly, in the last 50 – 60 pages it became a struggle again. Point of views swam and swapped without any tether or support, plot lines were deserted. And I was back being frustrated again.

Lionel Asbo is a walking ASBO (anti-social behavior order), viewed through the eyes of his cousin. They live in the trash can, society’s drain of London, surrounded by violence, disturbed families and a big need to fit in with the desperate ways. Things change, yet stay the same when Lionel wins a huge lottery prize. Millions.

Combine this with the story teller trying to break free from his surroundings, family matters, financial matters, violence and a love for the comfort of prison and you have something boiling. Sadly, by the end of the book, boiling over.

Lionel Asbo: State of England, Martin Amis, Cape 2012

The Pregnant Widow

They had driven into town from the castle; and Keith Nearing walked the streets of Montale, Italy, from car to bar at dusk, flanked by two twenty-year-old blondes, Lily and Scheherazade …

You know that alternative themed party that your friends (and the Internet) have been raving about, while to you it only looked like a students’ common room with cheap alcohol and high ‘philosophical’ conversations? This book is that party and I didn’t get why it was so cool.

You’d think it would be fun for a reviewer to review a book you didn’t like. Just use every kind of  it sucked known to man and you’re done. But that’s not reviewing, nor giving a proper opinion (arguments, remember?).
So, here goes my try.
The Pregnant Widow is 465 pages of obnoxious twenty (and up) year olds who can only think of sex and (British) novels, women who are called cock a lot, using words and adding their dictionary definitions and not much else. There is no insight into any of the characters, no jokes, cynicism or even details of their surroundings. It’s only self-pity and uninspired meetings written in such a way that make you wonder how an author can fill so many pages with so little. I dragged myself by my hair through this book, through this day-to-day holiday life of a mentally-bloated kid.

Other reviews speak about the book as a memoir of the start of feminism, the end of youth and dark humor.  Maybe I expected too much, maybe I didn’t dig deep enough. For me, it simply was a disappointment. Next time I want to read whining about people not sleeping with you, I’ll visit any teenage message board. It’s much less long-winded.

The Pregnant Widow, Martin Amis, Cape 2010