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Yellow Dog Paperback – January 4, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this much-anticipated 10th novel-which has already fomented a furor in Britain-the prose is brilliant and often hilarious, and the insights into contemporary culture are disturbingly prescient. But the book's many successes cannot hide its fundamental flaw: an overly complex and needlessly opaque narrative structure. The wildly plotted novel begins when modern "Renaissance man" (actor/writer) Xan Meo is viciously assaulted; his head injury changes this "dream husband" into an oversexed, sadistic lout, ultimately forcing his wife to cast him out. But the attack isn't an act of random violence. As one of his assailants, Mal, cryptically puts it, "You went and named him... J-o-s-e-p-h A-n-d-r-e-w-s." From this enigmatic opening, Amis weaves a complex tapestry of narrative threads: Xan Meo is trying to recover his lost personality and his family's loving embrace; teenage Princess Victoria-a future queen of England-is being blackmailed with a video of her in the bath; tabloid journalist Clint Smoker-emasculated by a laughably small penis-extracts his revenge by being relentlessly misogynistic in print. Meanwhile, the recidivist, violent criminal Joseph Andrews-now a pornography impresario in Los Angeles-is plotting a way to return to England to die. Making these intersecting narratives cohere would be a challenge for any writer, but Amis reaches even further with a backdrop of apocalyptic violence (a transatlantic flight that's doomed to crash, a meteor that might hit the planet). That background clouds his core themes, which are more than dramatic enough to be compelling: violence and its intimate connections to sex and gender, the "obscenification" of everyday life and the 21st-century preoccupation with fame. (A typical Amis apercu: "Fame had so democratised itself that obscurity was felt as a deprivation or even a punishment.") Thanks to Amis's pitch-perfect dialogue, his I-can't-believe-he-wrote-that humor and his perceptive critique of contemporary morals, this is still a novel of many pleasures-and still a novel to be reckoned with.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Amis elicits as much animosity as approbation, especially in his native England, but no reader can deny the audacity of his imagination or the tensile power of his subversive, fractured, vitriolic prose. In the opening scene in his first novel in five years, a crass and careening satire, Xan Meo, a self-declared Renaissance man with a grimy past, scans the bawdy drink menu in a London pub that offers cocktails called Blowjob and Dickhead and ponders the "obscenification of everyday life," a key theme in the insanity that follows. His brief reverie is violently interrupted, however, and he sustains a serious head injury. Meanwhile, King Henry IX, seemingly dim, dotty, and bored to paralysis with his witless duties, is facing a crisis: someone possesses highly compromising photos of 15-year-old Princess Victoria. And wouldn't sleazy tabloid genius Clint Smoker just love to get hold of those? Xan struggles to regain control over his addled brain and hyperactive libido, the king muddles along, Clint seeks new lows on behalf of the "wankers" who read his ludicrous rag, and a comet threatens to crash into Earth as Amis decimates the patriarchal paradigm (and the monarchy) by dissecting, in outrageous detail, the paradoxes of the pornography industry and the psychosis of father-daughter incest. 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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (January 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400077273
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400077274
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,252,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Martin Amis is the Transatlantic voice of the Baby Boom generation, and he sets the pace for other writers. Most of the modern novelists just don't get it. Martin does. He's post-PostModern, and of course "Yellow Dog" is a mess, because it's intended to be a parody of a novel. That's the whole point. Mr. Amis is famous for being famous Amis, and also for recurrent themes in his fiction, none of which he takes all that seriously. The silliness and unavailing nature of fame and wealth ("Money," "The Information"), the meaningless of life (nearly the whole list), and humanity's disappearing illusions as intellectual discovery continues. The point is, there's very little left to write about; you shouldn't quite take it seriously, a grown man making up characters and putting them through their paces. So he indulges in style, for fun, as a jape, heaping opacity upon banalities, fooling around with Joycean obscurity (clearly a major influence) and Bellow-like platitudinous bellowing. He's funny as hell (the stuff about Smoker's life"style" ["his bathroom was the only non-unbelievable room in the house;" who else could write that?]), he writes like a dream, and you simply can't waste your time while you're reading him. He's the best there is, and has been for a long time. If you like neat and tidy plot structures, deadpan sincerity, and no loose ends, read someone else. If you want to have fun and laugh at the world, read Martin Amis. The rest of the hacks do, even when they're trashing him.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lynn M on July 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
Whenever I find myself getting homesick for dear old England I'll just have to refresh my memory with some Amis. The shockingly awful rags pretending to be newspapers. The random acts of violence and petty crime. The drunken, loutish behaviour that has become socially acceptable. The rampant misogamy. The ridiculous anachronism that is the Royal Family. Amis hits all the targets in YELLOW DOG. It's the UK at its worst and fiction at its best.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Grosso on November 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Ok it's not as great as his earlier works such as "Money" and "London Fields", but still better than most books published this year including some short-listed for the Booker Prize. It contains some typically wonderful Amis humor and word play. Yellow Dog is well worth reading: a decent achievement by one of the world's great modern writers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alfred J. Kwak on February 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
As a reviewer from the continent, I am blissfully unaware of what has made Martin Amis (MA) such a controversial person in his homeland. The Economist, in a recent, rather positive review of MA's latest, "The Pregnant Widow", found it opportune to remind its readers that "Yellow Dog" (YD) was a substandard novel. According to which standards? Whose standards? MA is not the world's greatest plotter of novels, but his characters are superlative and his language use astonishing.
MA writes to sooth his many fears and obsessions, such as the Bomb, pollution, competition among males, fatherhood, flying, the resurgence of Russia, and the non-working working class in Britain. In earlier books MA invented some unforgettable creatures such as the baby then toddler-from-hell Marmaduke, and Keith Talent, a gross yob aspiring to immortality in the game of darts. In YD, MA returns to his obsession with tabloids, its writers, targets and readers.
His hero Xan has become a model husband and father of two since his acrimonious divorce, also a public figure, active on TV and as an author. Once a year he visits a neighbourhood pub to celebrate his continued good behaviour with a few drinks. And out of nowhere he is accosted by two strangers and beaten up very badly. When he is released from hospital his personality is changed, perhaps forever...
MA links Xan with an outrageous cast of characters to explain the attack: wife, ex-wife and children; a tabloid journalist obsessed with the size of his manhood and his mobile phone girlfriend; King Henry IX ("Henry England"), his Chinese girlfriend, his male personal secretary and his daughter Victoria, very blackmail-prone, and a rancorous crime boss/long stay guest of penitentiary institutions, a psychotic football star, to mention a few.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Shane K. Joseph on April 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
My first Martin Amis, and I think, given his patriarchal theme, I will stick with his dad Kingsley in future.
Amis is bold - no question - dealing with subjects such as incest, gratuitious violence, rage, drug abuse, pornography, impotence, spousal rape. He even invents his own language for the character k8 (Kate) which is witty after you figure it out.He enters the world of porn with terms like Blackeye, Cockout, Redface, Boxback, Yellow tongue, Facial - some explained, others left to our imagination. His descriptions are equally visceral; he describes a planeload of disembarking passengers as " the tube of canned sex emptied in relays of tits, pits and zits "
Four of the five disparate story strands sort of came together in the end, while the fifth one about the crashing airliner, didn't connect at all, and I wondered why it was there - further proof of male superiority, even from the grave?
My issue with this book was that everyone in it (except for baby Sophia) is a bad, twisted person and I am not sure if anyone was redeemed in the end - so why bother?
And the writer demonstrated arrogance in starting his scenes anywhere he damned well cared, letting the reader hang on for dear life and try and fit all the pieces together. I dislike all this "work" when reading to be entertained, educated and enlightened.
I guess, in writing this book, Amis displayed his virtuosity with words but severely limited our view on his empathy towards human character.
Shane Joseph [...]
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