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Yellow Dog [Hardcover]

Martin Amis
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Sep 2003

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; the porno tycoon, Cora Susan; and Kent Price, the corpse in the hold of the stricken airliner, apparently determined, even in death, to bring down the plane that carries his spouse. 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' which 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. Novelists have noticed that contemporary reality keeps outdoing their imaginations. Yet there is still the obligation to attempt a reading of the present and the very near future. If, in the twenty-first century, the moral reality is changing, then the novel is changing too, whether it likes it or not. Yellow Dog is an early example 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.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape; 1st Edition edition (4 Sep 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224050613
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224050616
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 723,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Martin Amis is the author of ten novels, the memoir Experience, two collections of stories and six collections of non-fiction. He lives in London.

Product Description


Martin Amis at his best. Wonderful. Extravagantly funny (Guardian)

As clever and convincing as ever (Sunday Telegraph)

One of the best novels he's written. As funny as Dead Babies, as blackly portentous as London Fields and as satirically on-the-nail as Money. Perfectly weighted, exquisitely observed and rich in condensed meaning. (Mail on Sunday)

[There] are moments of magical vigilance and great emotional delicacy, intimations of a quite different kind of writer that Amis could be, or would be, perhaps, were it not for the demands of his devastating comic gift. (Guardian)

Mind-tinglingly good. He seems to have guessed what you thought about the world, and then expressed it far better than you ever could. Here is a novel to silence the doubters. Amis has found a subject to match the tessellated polish of his style. (Observer)

Book Description

Amis's first novel since The Information: a post 9/11 comedy (2003-03-03)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Neither as good nor as bad as you've heard 17 Nov 2003
By A Customer
Spasmodically funny, clever and inventive it may be, but there's nothing here to engage the reader emotionally, and the intellectual bite of the novel isn't enough to justify such a trade-off. As ever with Amis, the writing is often truly inspired (if sometimes a bit try-hard), but entire sections of the novel (the aircraft bit) seem largely or wholly pointless, and others (the 'royal' scenes) unconvincing and dry. His unusual verbal dexterity ensures that his reputation will stay solid, but there are much more substantial, worthwhile novels being written.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amis on top form 2 Sep 2003
Amis' new novel - his first full-length fiction since "Night Train" in 1997 - has provoked considerable response in the UK press. As usual, the controversy has less to do with the book itself, than with the rather tawdry infighting so redolent of the London literary scene. Little attention has been paid to the actual novel, which does in fact demonstrate Amis writing (almost) to the peak of his considerable powers.
The themes and characters are familiar Amis tropes - low life crooks, the upper classes, pornography, and the "category-error" of rampant male violence. But "Yellow Dog" does see Amis branching out in the form to an extent not seen since 1991's "Time's Arrow". While the prose is versatile, endlessly inventive and cuttingly precise, Amis opts here for a fragmented form, stuttering and abrupt, that brilliantly reflects his central concerns. This is very much a 21st century novel, and it is permeated with a feeling of discontinuity and dull paranoia. It is also, as we have come to expect, very, very funny.
Occasionally this style doesn't quite pull together, and the ending (as is usual for an Amis book) isn't quite satisfactory, but there is no one else in the country who is producing literature as edgy and stylised as this. Amis is a modern master, and "Yellow Dog", while not being the best introduction for new readers, is absolutely essential for anyone who wants an early reading of what this century is going to be like. And in an unusual twist for the Amis canon, the book does attempt a redemptive conclusion. Perhaps Amis' dark and cynical imagination is beginning to move out into the light.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed 9 Jan 2004
I'm as big an Amis fan as they come. Money and London Fields are genius. Is there a more compelling character in modern lit than John Self and his Fiasco? Or Keith Talent ("the sincerity of the dart")? Or Nicola Six? ("Six (6)") Well, Xan Meo ain't among them. Not sure what happened here. I just never grabbed the thread. The incendiary language wasn't there, neither were the train wreck characters. The thing with Meo's daughters seemed pointlessly creepy and the rest of cast seemed shallow and insubstantial. The porno bits were mildly amusing, clearly inspired by Amis's (much better) journalism on the same. The best stuff was the paraphrasing of the American airline pilots' banalities, a credited rip of Black Boxes (a fave read of mine even before Y Dog).
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Yellow Dog? Dog's dinner 2 Aug 2004
Amis's first novel proper since 1996's The Information is a profound disappointment. The "great stylist" seems to have started believing his press and delivered a book that is all style and no substance, to the point that it reads rather like a parody of Amis rather than the man himself.
There is no plot; not necessarily a drawback as plot has never been his strong point anyway, but he's got away with it in the past thanks to strong, entertaining characters such as Keith Talent and John Self. Here, sadly, the characters are merely ciphers, stereotypes - the boring New Man, the retired Cockney villain, the slobbish tabloid journalist, the bad lad footballer. The royal subplot detracts from the book's credibility, and the corpse-in-the-airliner subplot is a waste of paper.
It's not all bad - Amis's writing can still be a thing of wonder and some of the dialogue here, particularly that involving aged villain Joseph Andrews, is absolutely superb - but on the whole the book lacks coherence and some passages - the death of Mal and the blinding of Clint Smoker for example - are so badly written as to be incomprehensible.
In his old age, Salvador Dali used to sign blank canvasses so that less talented artists could make a fortune by passing off their work as that of the genius himself - Yellow Dog comes across as the literary equivalent of one of these fraudulent works. It's got Amis's name on it, but the writing within is a poor imitation.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bland excuse 18 Sep 2003
By A Customer
Yellow Dog is a true Martin Amis creation, stylistically it is structured well, having three streams of narrative each altering in rhythm and language depending on character. Also its amusing, but as an avid Amis reader its all too obvious.
As an Amis novel I can't fault it, but as great as Money? No way! This novel attempts to persuade the reader towards the idea that we have transcended all 'morality' in the wake of 9/11 and is trying to push the reader beyond the ideas of London Fields or Money. And although it truly does this, it doesn't do it as well as it should. The truly dissapointing thing about reading this novel is that you CAN put it down, unlike Amis' other works, and this to me is a bad sign. If you are an Amis fan you have to read this novel, but I warn you; prepare to have a twinge of dissapointment in your heart when you finish.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars tedious beyond redemption
If all the prose, with the hallmark Amis magic of description, were assembled into a novel it would be pretty good. Unfortunately, he is just trying too hard to avoid convention. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Neil Carmichael
5.0 out of 5 stars A review from the continent
As a reviewer from the continent, I am blissfully unaware of what has made Martin Amis (MA) such a controversial person in his homeland. Read more
Published on 20 Feb 2010 by P. A. Doornbos
3.0 out of 5 stars WE ARE NOT AMUSED
Juvenal called his book of satires a `farrago', and the word fits Yellow Dog very well. It's satire, it's a farrago of many different themes and plots, and it's a very clever... Read more
Published on 4 Feb 2009 by DAVID BRYSON
3.0 out of 5 stars Decidedly average
This is the first book by Martin Amis that I've read, and if its indicative of the quality his other books, then I think it will be my last. Read more
Published on 28 July 2004 by J. Poulton
5.0 out of 5 stars crash, bang, where's me cheesy wotsit
It's silly to worry about Yellow Dog. If you live in England and watch the telly and get haughty then you'll have nothing to worry about. You won't understand it. You'll enjoy it. Read more
Published on 25 July 2004 by 2cleverbyhalf
5.0 out of 5 stars A difficult Amis
First of all, Amis' writing in Yellow Dog has never been bettered - there are passages of absolutely blatant showboating, wonderful flights of language, and at least two of his... Read more
Published on 25 May 2004 by Peter Fenelon
5.0 out of 5 stars A difficult Amis
First of all, Amis' writing in Yellow Dog has never been bettered - there are passages of absolutely blatant bravura writing, and at least two of his characters are immortals -... Read more
Published on 25 May 2004 by Peter Fenelon
3.0 out of 5 stars Heavy-Handed Satire of Porn, Sexual Relations and Pretension
Do you ever feel like you cannot escape someone trying to sell you unwanted pornography, sexual aids, "dating services", information about "celebrities" and ridiculous ideas for... Read more
Published on 5 May 2004 by Donald Mitchell
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't believe the anti-hype
Structurally tight, balanced, accurate, and most importantly, very funny, Yellow Dog is nothing like the book that was inexplicably panned by some critics. Read more
Published on 5 Feb 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Amis is always good, but this isn't my favourite.
Like a number of other reviewers, I think Martin Amis is among our best writers.
But although I enjoyed this book, it felt a little too contrived for me to be really absorbed. Read more
Published on 1 Oct 2003 by David Glover
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