Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Martin Amis in "Yellow Dog is good!" shock

Well, not quite. Over at the Martin Amis discussion forum, which contains, or rather consists of, outpourings of bile by ex-Amis fans (see it at AmisWeb), there is one strand that attempts to stick up for Amis and his work. I will join this lone voice of support, in a way.

Yellow Dog does have severe problems. The main plot is driven by the London underworld, much as appeared in The Information (to supposed comic effect) and London Fields, but the sub-Eastender argot fails to convince, even if it's right (and I decline to believe that A is any more likely to know than I am). The banality of evil is sometimes worth pointing out, but this is just the banality of banality. The plane-crash/comet sub-plot feels tacked on, as does the reportage on the pornography industry, which he claims to find shocking even though in Dead Babies, 25 years ago, he professed to be unshocked by worse. At the core of the novel we are asked to accept that a New Man can be re-engineered into an Old Asshole by being hit on the head, and can then get better.

But when I was reading it last year, there were two other things that rang absolutely false: the tabloid-footballer sub-plot and the home-life-of-the-royals. These I think can reasonably be written up now as prescient. The Wayne Rooney-Colleen saga which has dominated the Sunday papers for the last 6 months is following Amis' script to the letter: Rooney goes off the rails, Colleen stands by him, he goes off the rails, she chucks him out, they reunite for the kids, my booze and birds hell... And the royal wedding raised precisely the awkward questions that turning off the queen's life-support did, with the papers unsure which line to take.

So he gets the press right: MA is Clint Smoker!

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