If you spent your weekend reading book reviews, you know that ASBO stands for Anti-Social Behavior Orders, which are issued in Great Britain for certain acts, like public drunkenness and urinating in public. The titular character of Martin Amis’s new novel, Lionel Asbo: State of England (RH/Knopf) received his first one at age 3.
The New York Observer sums up the reactions of most reviewers; “A mediocre book by Martin Amis is better than most books by anyone else, but unfortunately, a bad book by Martin Amis is just as bad as any other bad book. And Lionel Asbo is a bad book.” Only the Kansas City Star dissents, calling it ” one of [Amis’s] most compulsively readable” novels.
Amis himself explained both the title and the subtitle in an interview on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday.