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 (Knopf, 255 pp. $25.95) is a bad book.
The mention on the cover of Mr. Amis’s previous masterworks—Money and London Fields—does Lionel Asbo no favors by calling to mind its better-realized predecessors. As in those books, the protagonist is a morally bankrupt, misogynistic menace to society—which for Mr. Amis is a promising start. Unfortunately, Asbo reads like a first draft of an Amis novel, before the linguistic pyrotechnics, trenchant wit and cosmopolitan insight have made it in.
The Observer put down our book last Saturday and ventured out to Gardiner Farm for the eighth annual Authors Night at the East Hampton Library. By the time we arrived, a plethora of library patrons—evidently undeterred by the cloudy skies—swarmed the tent in hopes of chatting up their favorite writers.
Hosted by library benefactors Alec Baldwin and Barbara Goldsmith, the reception boasted a guest list of more than 100 authors—everyone from the former Real Housewife of New York Kelly Killoren Bensimon, author of the “supermodel diet” book I Can Make You Hot, to the esteemed Lyndon Johnson biographer Robert Caro. Literary aficionados of all breeds meandered between tables with plastic cups of wine, accumulating stacks of personally inscribed hardcovers.
Sitting beside a large pile of copies of his second autobiography, Dick Cavett appeared to be thoroughly enjoying the attention of a throng of admirers and photographers. As we approached, he spontaneously grabbed both sides of our head and pulled us in for a dramatic kiss on the cheek. “I just wanted to give the photographer a thrill,” he whispered, a gleam in his eye.