BREAKFAST IN THE RUINS by Michael Moorcock


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An implausibly appealing little novel by a veteran sci-fi writer who now seems to be exploring the further and sneakier reaches of phantasmic ingenuity. Ostensibly it's about the seduction of a drab, futureless London lad -- one of those nasal, self-justifying types -- by a swank Nigerian homosexual who picks him up in the tearoom of one of the city's better department stores. Karl, our young hero, goes there to nourish his sense of deprivation and a nostalgic fantasy of the posh, pre-war childhood he feels he should have had; and you'd think he'd be satisfied with the glamorous, indulgent reality he enters on going home with the African -- but of course you'd be wrong. The fantasy life has more dimensions and makes stronger claims than that, as Moorcock implies and ramifies ominously in the very construction of his narrative. Each chapter consists of a historical epigraph or quotation, a short dramatic sequence to bring the love affair up to date, and then a longer vignette or story extrapolated from the foregoing items, in which Karl appears in ever older and tougher identities and in increasingly contemporary and violent situations until -- having dominated his lover -- he anticipates himself as a brute survivor of civilization's end. Remember, we said implausibly appealing. The suggestive, psycho-social tow is a sci-fi legacy, and heavy; but Moorcock plays it off with sly, sly stylish prose and through sheer cleverness turns his arbitrary setup into something really very nifty.

Pub Date: April 3rd, 1974
Publisher: Random House