Uncovered along with Crazy Cock in 1988 by Miller biographer Mary V. Dearborn, Moloch emerged from the misery of Miller's years at Western Union and from the squalor of his first marriage. Set in the rapidly changing New York City of the early twenties, its hero is the rough-and-tumble Dion Moloch, a man filled with anger and despair. Trapped in a demeaning job, oppressed by an acrimonious home life, Moloch escapes to the streets only to be assaulted by a world he despises even more — a Brooklyn transformed into a shrill medley of ethnic sights, sounds, and smells. The antagonized Moloch strikes out blindly at everything he hates, battling against a world whose hostility threatens to overwhelm and destroy him.
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Miller's lost first complete novel, which--along with the unfinished Crazy Cock (1991) that followed-- was unearthed in 1988. In her introduction, Mary V. Dearborn tells us: ``Moloch is intriguing as a piece of Miller juvenilia and as a first attempt at autobiographical fiction....But its prose is spotty and uneven, almost uniformly stilted and awkward, and the narrative voice is inconsistent and frequently obtrusive.'' The caveats made, this is still a pretty awful book by a wonderfully original writer finding his voice. Nobody in America in 1927 was writing even remotely like Miller does in Moloch, a novel that refuses to cut back on its vaulting ambition or to sweeten its sights with kindnesses to anyone. He writes in the third person about his days as a personnel manager for Western Union, called here The Great American Telegraph Company, and in Tropic of Capricorn The Cosmodemonic Telegraph Company. These office scenes are a run-through for the full frenetically unbuttoned experience in Capricorn, but their humor is mildly sardonic and laced with ethnic slurs appropriate to the characters. The sex here, mild by Miller's later standards, was unquestionably outspoken for its day when no man ever touched a woman's breast in fiction. Meanwhile, despite its gargantuan flaws and thick prose, something striking arises on every page, gleaming like turquoise shards in an empty lot. The story, such as it is, more or less focuses on Dion Moloch's job, his associates, and his playing free and loose while wife Blanche and daughter Edda wait at home. Then Moloch comes to terms with Blanche, after she leaves him. A period piece, often boring, filled with likable grotesques and gritty street-sights in Manhattan and Brooklyn. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
Dion Moloch, the hero of Miller's first extant, heretofore unpublished novel (written in 1927 and long thought to be the work of his wife June), is an anti-Semitic boor and vain intellectual snob who defends his wife-beating and crudely mocks a friend's death. A stand-in for the aspiring novelist himself, Moloch, who works for a New York telegraph company (modeled on Western Union, where Miller himself once worked) embodies the author's twisted Nietzschean image of himself as "an iconoclast who destroyed from a sheer superabundance of health and strength." As Miller biographer Dearborn notes in her introduction, Moloch's dominant theme is its protagonist's poisonous, obsessive hatred of Jews, which makes long stretches of this work offensive. Peppered with repellent slurs against women, gays, blacks and other ethnic groups, the novel nevertheless provides tantalizing flashes of Miller's mature, quasi-surreal, apocalyptic style and offers flavorful glimpses of 1920s Manhattan, Brooklyn's mean streets and Jazz Age Harlem. Moloch's relationship with his wife, Blanche (modeled on Miller's first wife), is one long, bitter quarrel, in which the two simmer with mutual resentment. The chief interest in this half-baked, awkwardly written self-portrait lies in watching Miller feel his way into the autobiographical adventure narrative, a mode he would bring to fruition in Tropic of Capricorn.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: Very Good. The book has been read, but is in excellent condition. Pages are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine remains undamaged. Bookseller Inventory # GOR004137573
Book Description Flamingo, 1994. Book Condition: Very Good. New Ed. Ships from the UK. Former Library book. Great condition for a used book! Minimal wear. Bookseller Inventory # GRP96892375
Book Description Flamingo, London, 1994. Paperback. Book Condition: Fine. First Thus. This modern classic is set in New York city of the 1920's, is a funny, energetic novel which charts the disintegrating marriage and desperate lifestyle of Henry Miller's alter ego, Dion Moloch, the unscrupulous, philandering manager of the Great American Telegraph company. The paperback book is in fine condition throughout. Bookseller Inventory # 001663