Michael Moorcock King of the City

ISBN 13: 9780684861401

King of the City

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9780684861401: King of the City
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Denny Dover is now out of work and moving to the wastes of Skerring to lick his wounds. A former rock star and existential maverick this East End lad-made-good lived it up with the best. But his childhood friend Sir John Barbican-Begg (deceased, allegedly) is resurrecting events from the past.

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Review:

Michael Moorcock at his unbeatable best: King of the City is a thunderous 400-odd page salvo that is another great London novel as well as a scarifying picture of excess and corruption, seen through the eyes of sleazy photographer Denny Dover. For those who relished Moorcock's massive (and massively entertaining) novel Mother London and enjoyed his epic literary novel Gloriana, King of the City will be manna from Heaven.

Since the demise of Princess Di brought about a change in the English soul, the new thinking has kicked tabloid paparazzi photographers like Denny out of work. He fetches up in the benighted wastes of Skerring on the south coast of England, only to sink into dreams of his days as a substance-abusing, sexually omnivorous rock star and existential maverick. Denny is galvanised when his childhood friend, massively wealthy magnate John Barbican-Begg, proves that rumours of his death are greatly exaggerated. Denny has to deal with both his collusion in Begg's avaricious ambitions and--far worse--the apparent seduction of his beautiful cousin Rosie. Comparisons with Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities will be thrown up but although this shares the same glittering surface (and is couched in language that is similarly elegant, demotic and malignantly witty), Moorcock essentially concentrates on four characters rather than the more scattershot approach of Wolfe. This is a shame, as Moorcock could have fleshed out some of the minor characters. No matter: for those who lived through the 1960s, this will be the definitive document. For those too young to remember it, a trip in this particular time machine will plunge them into a dizzying and phantasmagoric world in which anything goes.

The treatment of modern Britain is equally vivid, etched with a razor-sharp scalpel. The mixture of fictional and real-life characters is brought off with the kind of panache we have come to expect from Moorcock and the more serious issues he takes on (imperialism, greed, personal integrity) are perfectly integrated into the Dickensian canvas. But, finally, it is the language that will soon have people quoting wholesale from the book:

The one big lesson American consumerism taught Europe is how to strip your own psychic assets. How to sell your self-respect in return for a handout and the chance of a class-action court case. How to squeeze a handsome buck out of a murdered ancestor, maximise the profit on your birthright ... now we're all plodding through the same toxic haze of urine, grease, carbon monoxide and degenerated plastic that has eaten away the city's deregulated gilt and left us coughing up crap.
--Barry Forshaw

About the Author:

Michael Moorcock was born in England in 1939. He has written many novels and has won the GUARDIAN Fiction Award for CONDITION OF MUSAK and was short-listed for the Whitbread Prize for MOTHER LONDON. In recent years he has achieved an international reputation and is now recognised as a major contemporary novelist. A longtime resident of London, he now lives near Austin, Texas, with his wife.

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ISBN 10:  0380975890 ISBN 13:  9780380975891
Publisher: William Morrow & Company, 2001
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