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Dead Babies Paperback – April 3, 1991


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Dead Babies + London Fields + Money: A Suicide Note (Penguin Ink)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; First Edition edition (April 3, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067973449X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679734499
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #353,570 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Sparkling might not be the first adjective that springs to mind to describe a novel packed with the concentrated disgust which Dead Babies contains. Nevertheless, Martin Amiss version of the bleak and wrecky future that awaits a sex-and-drug-addicted society is so fizzing with style, so busy with verbal inventiveness, that the adjective is impelled upon one." -- Julian Barnes

From the Inside Flap

If the Marquis de Sade were to crash one of P. G. Wodehouse's house parties, the chaos might resemble the nightmarishly funny goings-on in this novel by the author of London Fields. The residents of Appleseed Rectory have primed themselves both for a visit from a triad of Americans and a weekend of copious drug taking and sexual gymnastics. There's even a heifer to be slugged and a pair of doddering tenants to be ingeniously harassed. But none of these variously bright and dull young things has counted on the intrusion of "dead babies" -- dreary spasms of reality. Or on the uninvited presence of a mysterious prankster named Johnny, whose sinister idea of fun makes theirs look like a game of backgammon.

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Customer Reviews

This is Martin Amis at his misanthropic best.
Raingirlfriend
I tried to read this book, but as I turned page one it just fell off the spine.
David
It has been an absolute pleasure translating this book.
Kati

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By brewster22 on January 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
I think the other reviews here for this Martin Amis novel are very apt. "Dead Babies" is a glib, superficial novel, not up to Amis's usual standards and obviously written early in his career. Characters are barely developed, the plot is obscure at best and at times completely incomprehensible, and Amis's disgust and nastiness (always present in his writing) is undisciplined here and overshadows everything else.
However, that said, even less than stellar Amis is fun to read, because he has a writing style that is so unquestionably unique and he writes phrases that pop like firecrackers. He's also scathingly funny, if your sense of humour leans a certain way.
The complaints about Amis's shallow treatments of Americans in this novel are justified, but his treatment didn't bother me too much, since he doesn't paint a much rosier picture of the English.
Like others here have said, if you've never read Amis before, I probably wouldn't start with "Dead Babies," as you might not want to read anything else. However, if you're an Amis fan, this novel lends an interesting look into the early development of a great writer.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 10, 1997
Format: Paperback
I gave this book to a friend of mine, and she said it was the only book she'd ever read that made her physically ill. But she finished it. This book chronicles the adventures of some English twentysomethings sharing a house during the 70s. Of course there's the typical sex and drugs, as well as bizarre art movements, a family of dwarves, physical violence, and murder; but the real star is Amis' style -- vibrant and horrifying, never letting you respond any one way at any particular time. His control over the language is astounding, his authorial voice ever-elusive, and his moral sense is omnipresent and yet never simplistic or heavy-handed. This book is not genius, but it is an early work by a wunderkind who would realize his genius in "London Fields". Read it for the fun, the style, and the stomach pains.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Kati on April 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is thoroughly stylish, threatening while seemingly light-hearted and funny. Although written awhile ago the characters are all around us. The drugs, sex and life of such amount to an emptyness so vast the mind boggles and Amis has done a supreme job ripping the heart out of the illusions. Amis goes deep and then even deeper. It has been an absolute pleasure translating this book.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book touched me in places no other novel could. I felt so impressed by Amis' ability to handle drug abuse in a way that wasn't belittling or mocking as far as the victims went. He makes it very clear that these are people who deserve all the help and sympathy we can give them. Page after page, Amis' empathy flows while he presents truly alive characters who any one of us would want to meet and help. If you want a book that makes you feel like life is worth living again, this is your book. You could make the difference. Help an addict today!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By blicero on May 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
In the Rachel Papers, Amis claims that as a modern writer one can no longer write seriously about such things as love, the moon's reflection in the pond, the stars... This may be the case, but that doesn't mean that you are confined to writing only about pornographers, seedy, violent urban people and wise-acre nihilists. These types of people (and they are merely types) fit better in movies and TV than they do in fiction. Because they're boring and wooden, is why. The dialouge in this book (and man, is there a lot of it) is comprised of the characters (or caricatures) all trying to be more witty and nihilistic than each other. The reader comes away with feelings about how essentially boring human conversation is. Also there is something old-fashioned about the fascination in this book with sex and drugs... If you've already had sex and experimented with drugs (as presumably most of Amis's readers have) then this book just often seems juvenile.
Also, a bone to pick re: Amis's Americans: They are wooden and reflect common Euro misconceptions about what Americans are like.
Amis seems to cling to these stereotypes (eg. all Americans are tall, tan, and filled with "American resolve" as he says in the Information, his best novel (I think)). His Americans, at least in his early fiction, are absolute cartoons, even more cardboard-like than his other characters. You can't understand a culture by watching its TV and reading its newpapers. As the kid says below, so much for the War against the Cliche. From reading Amis's fiction, I'm surprised by the fact that he actually has been here... Plus, gritty urban America is merely one facet of the country, and even within this small section, there is endless variation (eg. the world of Seattle is far from the world of Chicago).
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Raingirlfriend on January 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is Martin Amis at his misanthropic best. An enjoyably mean-spirited nose-thumbing in the direction of those oh-so-British comedies of manners, with an ending as dark and unpleasant (and surprisingly funny; it's one of Amis's most satisfying punchlines) as you might expect from a book called 'Dead Babies.'
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
Come on Martin, you can do better than this! It took me ages to read this book, which in truth is more of a play than a novel. The structure heaved, and the ending was easy. NO real surprises either, for an apparently 'shocking' book. I always look forward to the bit where Martin enters the fray though, in his little authorial asides. Nothing compared to Money.
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