Martin Amis

We haven't read Martin Amis' new novel Lionel Asbo: State of England (Knopf, $25.95), but we share his fascination with that parvenu class of lottery winners who become overnight celebrities. Amis was arguably born famous but earned his subsequent literary acclaim (perhaps too much of it—one reason the Brit now resides in Brooklyn). Not so his new hero, who changes his name to the anagram for Anti-Social Behavior Order. Lionel is a petty criminal and ex-con with a soft spot for family. Suddenly transported by his windfall to loftier social circles, Lionel becomes a tabloid item with a poetess/PR expert girlfriend. Meanwhile there's a nephew with whom he enjoys a rather Pip-Magwitch relationship. The New York Times calls Lionel Asbo "a listless performance," a kind of lesser reprise of Money or London Fields. The Guardian hates it, calling the novel "depressingly bad, a stinker," but the English are always hardest on their own—particularly when they leave. But wait! There's always the user reviews at Amazon! "Astonishingly original" reads one online rave. Maybe Amis will find an equally receptive audience tonight, here in the land of Kindle. BRIAN MILLER

Sat., Sept. 15, 7 p.m., 2012

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