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 wasn’t meant to happen like this. They expected him to turn and he didn’t 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.
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Praise for Martin Amis:
“Mr. Amis is his generation’s top literary dog. . . . Dazzling. . . You’re never out of reach of a sparkly phrase, stiletto metaphor or drop-dead insight into the human condition. . . . Mr. Amis goes where other humorists fear to tread. . . . Look out, Flaubert! Look out, Joyce!” -- The New York Times Book Review
“Martin Amis is truly one of a kind. His profundities regarding the human heart and mind are genuine, gritty and candid. His lens is wide-angled, and his rearrangements of the world. . .produces some of the cleverest and wittiest juxtapositions anywhere. . . . Above all, Amis can write. He can write funny, and he can write mean. His sentences beckon. His passages seduce.” -- Ottawa Citizen
“Amis is a force unto himself. . . . There is, quite simply, no one else like him.” -- The Washington Post
“Martin Amis is a stone-solid genius. . .a dazzling star of wit and insight.” -- The Wall Street Journal
“Amis is arguably the greatest wordsmith living today, tossing off hundred-dollar words like spent matchsticks, with a scalding wit to go with it.” -- Winnipeg Free Press
Martin Amis’ most recent book was Koba the Dread. He lives in London.
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