"Yellow Dog" by Martin Amis (2003)
"It was Jeff Strite who spoke. 'The Case of the Walthamstow Wanker,' he intoned. 'And I don't mean the Walthamstow Reader. It's an interesting story. And it ties in with our Death to Paedophiles campaign. There's this public swimming-pool, right? With a gallery? He's up there alone watching a school party of nine-year-olds. Then this old dear, you know, Mrs. Mop appears. The geezer does a runner, falls down the stairs and smashes his head in. For why? His trousers are down around his ankles.'
"'Because he was having a... ?'
"'Exactly. Good heading too: Pervs Him Right.'"
Martin Amis is a British author whom I was not previously familiar with. I might have bought this book thinking he was Kingsley Amis. Reading the blurbs on the back of the book, all lacking any clue to the book's contents, I can't think of any other reason why I would have purchased it.
Which isn't to say that "Yellow Dog" is terrible. It's not all that bad. It was much easier to get through than the last novel I read, Saul Bellow's "Humboldt's Gift." Compared to Bellow's wordy, crushingly pretentious offering, "Yellow Dog" was a nice change of pace. Just the same, I can't say that I'll be seeking out any of Martin Amis's books in the future.
The plot revolves around author/thespian Xan Meo's head injury, and the mysterious circumstances surrounding his attack. There are also the goings-on at a mythical London newspaper, The Morning Lark, an airplane crash caused by a dead man, power struggles within California's pornography industry, and many discussions concerning pedophilia.
Throughout all of this "Yellow Dog" tries very hard to be funny, but the theme of pedophilia mediates against this aim. Pedophilia is just icky, and inserting any kind of joke after several pages of father-daughter incest just seems crass. Some of the scenes involving Xan and his older daughter are particularly disturbing, and as a result the tone of the book wavers between light-hearted romp and dark, brooding meditation on carnal desires. As a whole it just doesn't work.
Martin Amis has an impressive vocabulary at his disposal, but "Yellow Dog" suffers from some serious flaws. The author has probably written better books, but I have no clue as to what they are. As it is, I would not recommend "Yellow Dog."