Cover image for Yellow dog
Yellow dog
Amis, Martin.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Miramax, [2003]

Physical Description:
340 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Library
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



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.

Author Notes

Martin Amis, son of the novelist Kingsley Amis, was born August 25, 1949. His childhood was spent traveling with his famous father. From 1969 to 1971 he attended Exeter College at Oxford University. After graduating, he worked for the Times Literary Supplement and later as special writer for the Observer.

Amis published his first novel, The Rachel Papers, in 1973, which received the prestigious Somerset Maugham Award in 1974. Other titles include Dead Babies (1976), Other People: A Mystery Story (1981); London Fields (1989), The Information (1995), and Night Train (1997).

Martin Amis has been called the voice of his generation. His novels are controversial, often satiric and dark, concentrating on urban low life. His style has been compared to that of Graham Greene, Philip Larkin and Saul Bellow, among others. He is currently Professor of Creative Writing at the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester. In 2008, The Times named him one of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

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 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

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 aper?u: "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. (Nov.) Forecast: A rant by Tibor Fischer in the British press ("It's like your favourite uncle being caught in a school playground, masturbating") fueled literary gossip mills for weeks and stoked reader interest, already high. Scandal aside, this is Amis's first novel in more than five years, and it should sell strongly. 14-city author tour. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In his first novel in seven years, Amis examines the "obscenification of everyday life" via four narratives that spindle toward one another on a literal collision course. First is the story of Xan Meo, an actor with a dark past who suffers a personality-altering head injury after a savage attack. In the second, a fictionalized royal family is blackmailed as they face a legion of other potential scandals. The third is the saga of Clint Smoker, an insecure tabloid journalist, whose interaction with several unsavory denizens of the criminal underworld brings the other stories together. In the background, Amis interjects the odd but compelling story of a casket-bound corpse resolute on crashing the airplane transporting it. 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 serves the story well but leaves an unsettling cloud over the work. Highly recommended for comprehensive literature collections.-David Hellman, San Francisco State Univ. Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



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. From the Hardcover edition. Excerpted from Yellow Dog by Martin Amis All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Part I
Chapter 1
1. Renaissance Manp. 3
2. Hal Ninep. 15
3. Clint Smokerp. 22
101 Heavyp. 32
Chapter 2
1. The transfer to Traumap. 33
2. Doing Berylp. 40
3. On the Royal Trainp. 50
101 Heavyp. 59
Chapter 3
1. The publicity of knowledgep. 62
2. The high-IQ moronp. 69
3. Excaliburp. 78
101 Heavyp. 88
Chapter 4
1. The thing which is called worldp. 89
2. His Voluminousnessp. 102
3. Cold Blow Lanep. 115
101 Heavyp. 130
Chapter 5
1. In the master bedroomp. 132
2. Storm in a teacupp. 145
3. Car-sweatp. 158
101 Heavyp. 174
Part II
Chapter 6
1. The Decembristp. 179
2. Cora Susanp. 183
3. Denizenp. 188
4. At Ewelmep. 190
5. 101 Heavyp. 192
6. Apologia--1p. 194
7. We twop. 200
8. Use Your Headp. 203
9. Epithalamiump. 207
Chapter 7
1. We will go quietlyp. 212
2. Weird sisterp. 217
3. King Bastardp. 220
4. Cora's call on Pearlp. 223
5. It's Not Unusualp. 226
6. Size zero--1p. 231
7. Size zero--2p. 238
8. Not knowing againp. 245
9. To Othervillep. 248
Chapter 8
1. 101 Heavyp. 254
2. The face has holes in itp. 255
3. Apologia--2: Keith the Snakep. 260
4. Yellow Tonguep. 266
5. Cur momentp. 275
6. 101 Heavyp. 279
Part III
Chapter 9
1. The syrups of the skyp. 285
2. Sickout at Dolorosa Drivep. 290
3. The principle of lullabiesp. 293
4. Anger of the justp. 299
5. The Sextown Sniperp. 304
6. Men in powerp. 306
Chapter 10
1. 101 Heavyp. 309
2. Clint preparesp. 310
3. Waking in the coldp. 311
4. Leather on willowp. 312
5. 101 Heavyp. 313
6. What do princesses want?p. 314
7. Simon Fingerp. 316
8. The vestal followp. 317
9. 101 Heavyp. 321
Last Chapter
1. Courtly lovep. 323
2. k8p. 326
3. The edge of the earthp. 328
4. 101 Heavyp. 330
5. Yellow dogp. 332
6. When they were smallp. 338