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.


“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
CHAPTER ONE

1. Renaissance Man


But I go to Hollywood but I go to hospital, but you are first but you are last, but he is tall but she is small, but you stay up but you go down, but we are rich but we are poor, but they find peace but they find . . .

Xan Meo went to Hollywood. And, minutes later, with urgent speed, and accompanied by choric howls of electrified distress, Xan Meo went to hospital. Male violence did it.


'I'm off out, me,' he told his American wife Russia.

'Ooh,' she said, pronouncing it like the French for where.

'Won't be long. I'll bath them. And I'll read to them too. Then I'll make dinner. Then I'll load the dishwasher. Then I'll give you a long backrub. Okay?'

'Can I come?' said Russia.

'I sort of wanted to be alone.'

'You mean you sort of wanted to be alone with your girl-friend.

' Xan knew that this was not a serious accusation. But he adopted an ill-used expression (a thickening of the forehead), and said, not for the first time, and truthfully so far as he knew, 'I've got no secrets from you, kid.'

'. . . Mm,' she said, and offered him her cheek.

'Don't you know the date?'

'Oh. Of course.'

The couple stood embracing in a high-ceilinged hallway. Now the husband with a movement of the arm caused his keys to sound in their pocket. His half-conscious intention was to signal an ?.impatience to be out. Xan would not publicly agree, but women naturally like to prolong routine departures. It is the obverse of their fondness for keeping people waiting. Men shouldn't mind this. Being kept waiting is a moderate reparation for their five million years in power . . . Now Xan sighed softly as the stairs above him softly creaked. A complex figure was descending, normal up to the waist, but two-headed and four-armed: Meo's baby daughter, Sophie, cleaving to the side of her Brazilian nanny, Imaculada. Behind them, at a distance both dreamy and self-sufficient, loomed the four-year-old: Billie.

Russia took the baby and said, 'Would you like a lovely yoghurt for your tea?'

'No!' said the baby.

'Would you like a bath with all your floaty toys?'

'No!' said the baby, and yawned: the first lower teeth like twin grains of rice.

'Billie. Do the monkeys for Daddy.'

'There were too many monkeys jumping on the bed. One fell down and broke his head. They took him to the doctor and the doctor said: No more monkeys jumping on the BED.'

Xan Meo gave his elder daughter due praise.

'Daddy'll read to you when he comes back,' said Russia.

'I was reading to her earlier,' he said. He had the front door open now. 'She made me read the same book five times.'

'Which book?'

'Which book? Christ. The one about those stupid chickens who think the sky is falling. Cocky Locky. Goosey Lucy. And they all copped it from the fox, didn't they, Billie.'

'Like the frogs,' said the girl, alluding to some other tale. 'The whole family died. The mummy. The daddy. The nanny. And all the trildren.'

'I'm off out.' He kissed Sophie 's head (a faint circus smell); she responded by skidding a wet thumb across her cheek and into her mouth. And then he crouched to kiss Billie.
MARTIN AMIS is the author of fourteen previous novels, the memoir Experience, two collections of stories, and seven nonfiction books. He lives in Brooklyn. View titles by Martin Amis

About

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.


“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

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

1. Renaissance Man


But I go to Hollywood but I go to hospital, but you are first but you are last, but he is tall but she is small, but you stay up but you go down, but we are rich but we are poor, but they find peace but they find . . .

Xan Meo went to Hollywood. And, minutes later, with urgent speed, and accompanied by choric howls of electrified distress, Xan Meo went to hospital. Male violence did it.


'I'm off out, me,' he told his American wife Russia.

'Ooh,' she said, pronouncing it like the French for where.

'Won't be long. I'll bath them. And I'll read to them too. Then I'll make dinner. Then I'll load the dishwasher. Then I'll give you a long backrub. Okay?'

'Can I come?' said Russia.

'I sort of wanted to be alone.'

'You mean you sort of wanted to be alone with your girl-friend.

' Xan knew that this was not a serious accusation. But he adopted an ill-used expression (a thickening of the forehead), and said, not for the first time, and truthfully so far as he knew, 'I've got no secrets from you, kid.'

'. . . Mm,' she said, and offered him her cheek.

'Don't you know the date?'

'Oh. Of course.'

The couple stood embracing in a high-ceilinged hallway. Now the husband with a movement of the arm caused his keys to sound in their pocket. His half-conscious intention was to signal an ?.impatience to be out. Xan would not publicly agree, but women naturally like to prolong routine departures. It is the obverse of their fondness for keeping people waiting. Men shouldn't mind this. Being kept waiting is a moderate reparation for their five million years in power . . . Now Xan sighed softly as the stairs above him softly creaked. A complex figure was descending, normal up to the waist, but two-headed and four-armed: Meo's baby daughter, Sophie, cleaving to the side of her Brazilian nanny, Imaculada. Behind them, at a distance both dreamy and self-sufficient, loomed the four-year-old: Billie.

Russia took the baby and said, 'Would you like a lovely yoghurt for your tea?'

'No!' said the baby.

'Would you like a bath with all your floaty toys?'

'No!' said the baby, and yawned: the first lower teeth like twin grains of rice.

'Billie. Do the monkeys for Daddy.'

'There were too many monkeys jumping on the bed. One fell down and broke his head. They took him to the doctor and the doctor said: No more monkeys jumping on the BED.'

Xan Meo gave his elder daughter due praise.

'Daddy'll read to you when he comes back,' said Russia.

'I was reading to her earlier,' he said. He had the front door open now. 'She made me read the same book five times.'

'Which book?'

'Which book? Christ. The one about those stupid chickens who think the sky is falling. Cocky Locky. Goosey Lucy. And they all copped it from the fox, didn't they, Billie.'

'Like the frogs,' said the girl, alluding to some other tale. 'The whole family died. The mummy. The daddy. The nanny. And all the trildren.'

'I'm off out.' He kissed Sophie 's head (a faint circus smell); she responded by skidding a wet thumb across her cheek and into her mouth. And then he crouched to kiss Billie.

Author

MARTIN AMIS is the author of fourteen previous novels, the memoir Experience, two collections of stories, and seven nonfiction books. He lives in Brooklyn. View titles by Martin Amis

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