Synopses & Reviews
Brilliant, painful, dazzling, and funny as hell, Yellow Dog
is Martin Amis highly anticipated first novel in seven years and a stunning return to the fictional form.
When “dream husband” Xan Meo is vengefully assaulted in the garden of a London pub, he suffers head injury, and personality change. Like a spiritual convert, the familial paragon becomes an anti-husband, an anti-father. He submits to an alien moral system -- one among many to be found in these pages. We are introduced to the inverted worlds of the “yellow” journalist, Clint Smoker; the high priest of hardmen, Joseph Andrews; and the porno tycoon, Cora Susan. Meanwhile, we explore the entanglements of Henry England: his incapacitated wife, Pamela; his Chinese mistress, He Zhezun; his fifteen-year-old daughter, Victoria, the victim of a filmed “intrusion” that rivets the world -- because she is the future Queen of England, and her father, Henry IX, is its King. The connections between these characters provide the pattern and drive of Yellow Dog.
If, in the 21st century, the moral reality is changing, then the novel is changing too, whether it likes it or not. Yellow Dog is a model of how the novel, or more particularly the comic novel, can respond to this transformation.
But Martin Amis is also concerned here with what is changeless and perhaps unchangeable. Patriarchy, and the entire edifice of masculinity; the enormous category-error of violence, arising between man and man; the tortuous alliances between men and women; and the vanished dream (probably always an illusion, but now a clear delusion) that we can protect our future and our progeny.
Meo heard no footsteps; what he heard was the swish, the shingly soft-shoe of the hefted sap. Then the sharp two-finger prod on his shoulder. It wasnt meant to happen like this. They expected him to turn and he didnt turn -- he half-turned, then veered and ducked. So the blow intended merely to break his cheekbone or his jawbone was instead received by the cranium, that spacey bulge (in this instance still quite marriageably forested) where so many delicate and important powers are so trustingly encased.
He crashed, he crunched to his knees, in obliterating defeat. . . . -- from Yellow Dog
From the Hardcover edition.
"[T]he prose is brilliant and often hilarious, and the insights into contemporary culture are disturbingly prescient....But the book's many successes cannot hide its...overly complex and needlessly opaque narrative structure." Publishers Weekly
"[Y]our first reaction on reading a novel as mind-tinglingly good as Yellow Dog is not so much admiration as a kind of grateful despair. Mostly this is because, like all great writers, he seems to have guessed what you thought about the world, and then expressed it far better than you ever could." Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, The Observer (London)
"Yellow Dog may not be the deepest, most Booker-worthy novel Amis ever wrote, but it's such nasty, inventive, satisfying fun that his critics will be panting with envy." Donald Morrison, Time Europe
"The narrative stream is thick...and...kind of loud, like the ramblings of an extremely entertaining if rather boozy raconteur in a noisy pub....Raucous, confusing, hilarious, and...furiously intelligent and touching." Kirkus Reviews
"A sloppy, maddening, hilarious, and oddly touching amalgam of Evelyn Waugh and John Waters, Amis' wicked burlesque evinces his disgust with the herd mentality and a surprisingly tender regard for women." Donna Seaman, Booklist
"That all of these disparate plots connect in an intelligent and hilarious fashion is to Amis's credit, but readers might also be distracted by the persistent misogyny, which...leaves an unsettling cloud over the work. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"[R]eads like a sendup of a Martin Amis novel....Mr. Amis's celebrated love of language wilts in these pages into silly and mindless wordplay, while his mastery of postmodern pyrotechnics withers into an excuse for lazy craftsmanship..." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"Martin Amis at his best, in all his shifting registers, his drolleries and ferocities, his unsparing comic drive, his aesthetic dawdlings and beguilements, his wry, confident relish of his own astonishing effects." Alan Hollinghurst, The Guardian (U.K.)
"Yellow Dog shows [Amis] to be once again operating his craft at the level of his 1980s work, Money and London Fields....It is also marked by a gathering ferocity, a desire to genuinely disturb, that feels new." Charles Foran, The Toronto Globe and Mail
"To give Yellow Dog
its due, however, it's often witty, fun, and funny ('For the time being she looked like a thrillingly ardent woodland creature in an animated cartoon'), and Amis is still one of the best dialogue-writers around ('Seafood is bullshit. I want meat.'). Yellow Dog
contains plenty of amusing sentences, but it does not contain, I fear, that one thing that made Money
and London Fields
the august and classic novels they are: truth." Adrienne Miller, Esquire
(read the entire Esquire review
Martin Amis's brilliant and controversial new novel, already hailed in the British press as "Dickens with a snarl" and a "great comic extravagance."
After Xan Meo is brutally attacked in the garden of a London pub and suffers a severe head trauma, his wife and daughters find they are living with a stranger unpredictable, violent, vengeful, lost: "His condition felt like the twenty-first century: it was something you wanted to wake up from."
While it may alarm his family, Xan's new personality is a good match for the city and the age in which he lives. For this is the vicious London of tabloid journalist Clint Smoker, whose daily reports of illicit sex and outrageous scandal are every bit as fake (and artful) as the noose tattooed around his neck. This is a world where the King of England keeps a Chinese mistress in Paris and tries to suppress a video-taped, bathtub "intrusion" of his fifteen- year-old daughter from reaching the Internet. A world of hit men, pornographers, tycoons, and displaced royalty. A world where brilliant people perform unspeakable acts and bodyguards provide no protection.
Yellow Dog is Martin Amis at his dazzling best comic, fierce, gritty, and profound. Amis explores what is changeless and perhaps unchangeable: patriarchy and the entire edifice of masculinity; the violence arising between man and man; the tortuous alliances between men and women; and the vanished dream that we can protect our future and our progeny.
From the man the New York Times calls "the best American writer England has ever produced" comes a brilliant and unsettling novel of sex, royalty, and violence.
In his highly anticipated first novel in seven years, the man the "New York Times" calls "the best American writer England has ever produced" delivers a brilliant and unsettling novel of sex, royalty, and violence.
About the Author
Martin Amis lives in London.