'So it was that within minutes of Father Vivyan's soul leaving his body and soaring God alone knows where... the silence of that religious house was broken... They could hear the coarse accents of Lennox Mark shouting, "Don't you realize - you CUNT - don't you realize who I FUCKING am?"'Had Father Vivyan been killed by his own pride and fanaticism; by his belief that he could 'save' a dangerous and mentally unstable boy? Had he been killed by his own fanatical posture, his alliance with those whom the rest of the world saw as terrorists? Or had he been destroyed by the popular Press and in particular by the proprietor of The Legion, Lennox Mark? Perhaps by a bit of all those things- A. N. Wilson has written a savage satire on the morality of contemporary Britain - its Press, its politics, its Church, its rich, its underclass. His London is a bleak, if occasionally hilarious, place: murderous, randy, money-obsessed and haunted by strange gods. (2003-04-02)
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
The "God question" remains a thorny one for the leading protagonists of My Name is Legion, AN Wilson's impressive Waugh-esque satire of the Fourth Estate. Previously, God's Funeral surveyed what Wilson referred to as the "collective nervous breakdown" that occurred in the Victorian era. God was dead and we, with our new fangled rationalism, had killed him, to paraphrase Nietzsche. The title, from Mark's gospel, provides the name of the newspaper at the centre of the novel, The Legion, (an evil rag that peddles celebrity tittle-tattle and denounces asylum-seekers and "Belgian bureaucrats" for "tampering with the good British Banana") but it also alludes to one of the characters, Peter/Tuli, an unbalanced south-London teenager troubled by voices (if not actually devils).
Matters of faith are central to The Legion's grotesquely immoral African proprietor, Lennox Mark. The newspaper man wants to be rid of his belief in God and his nemesis, Father Vyvian Chell, a troublesome priest, who is campaigning, in the military sense of the word, for the overthrow of a corrupt regime that keeps Mark's business empire afloat. (General Bindiga of Mark's native Zinariya--whom Chell schooled and once supported--is always assured a good press in The Legion.) Both men (Chell and Mark), not incidentally, since this is a richly plotted novel, could be Peter's father--his mother Mercy doesn't know for sure.
Wilson is a former literary editor for the Evening Standard and this novel is something of a Roman à clef, or as he's still a columnist with that newspaper, possibly, a 500-odd page resignation letter. The vipers pit that is Fleet Street (or more precisely in the book, Bermondsey) is unflinchingly portrayed--from the machinations of the owner, his wife and her lesbian lover, right down to the familiar peccadilloes of hacks and the obligatory unrequited office romance: Sinclo's puppyish infatuation with his arts editor colleague Rachel. Comparisons with Scoop are inevitable, perhaps even invited--LP Watson, the paper's jaded, adulterous and utterly corrupted columnist is a former travel writer and poet whose book Amazonians, an account of a South American canoe journey, sounds not far off John Boot's Waste of Time. (And is the use of those initials intended to ring a few alarm bells too?) But Wilson's it's-all-gone-to-hell-in-a-handcart vision of the media and Britain, "governed" here by a God-bothering, honours-dispensing Prime Minister with estuary diction, is Amisian (Kingsley rather than Martin) in its withering despair. And, arguably, the novel is all the more engaging for it, but there are moments when it its sentiments appear to veer towards the very why-oh-why journalism it wants to mock. --Travis ElboroughReview:
"I loved it" -- Philip Hensher, The Spectator
'He grapples with the concerns both of the heart and the intellect and it is grippingly readable’ -- Times Literary Supplement
‘A big, broad, sweeping book, as disturbing as it is funny.' -- Guardian
‘A wonderful, thrilling depiction of media manipulation, corruption, tolerance and promiscuity. It’s so good, and so wise, it hurts' -- Frances Fyfield, The Week
‘Brilliantly inventive… A disturbing and highly original novel’ -- Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
‘Dickensian in scope, packed with perversity, filth and gutter lowlife. Its melodrama never fails to entertain’ -- Books of the Year, Daily Telegraph
‘Splendid and thoroughly enjoyable…Very funny and deeply serious at the same time’ -- The Scotsman
‘Terrifyingly funny’ -- Sean French, Independent
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
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