MOTHER LONDON by Michael Moorcock


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Published last year in Britain, this vast, amorphous, and fascinating work from f/sf writer Moorcock (Dancers at the End of Time; Byzantium Endures; The Laughter of Carthage; etc.) eschews standard novelistic structure to paint a tangible, multilayered portrait of London over 40 years. During the Blitz, young Mary Gasalee's home is struck and her husband killed. After walking miraculously from the inferno, she's taken to a hospital, and sleeps, unaging, for 15 years. When she awakes, she is drawn to two inmates: Josef Kiss, a portly eccentric, hero of the Blitz, once a stage mind-reader, later an actor specializing in commercials; and David Mummery, a teen-ager who will write books about London's secrets and legends and ghosts. All three hear "voices," the murmurings of other people's minds, and--when not taking drugs to suppress the voices--all three waver between fear of their own insanity and joy in their gift. Mary has affairs with both men, and much later, after David's drowning, marries Josef. But this simple linear description barely scratches the surface here. David writes, "I believe Time to be like a faceted jewel with an infinity of planes and layers impossible either to map or to contain," and author Moorcock renders this vision, moving back and forth in time through layers of images: David's childhood, as he play joyously in the rains of city; his uncle Jim, assistant to Churchill and Eden; Josef's wanderings through the city's neighborhoods, and his dealings with the underworld; the Oz-like carnival of London in the 1960's; the heartless Thatcherite London of gentrification and racial unrest. Not entirely successful in its use of "voices," but, still, a remarkable and intensely human book, full of love and knowledge of the many faces of London and her people.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1989
ISBN: 517-57183-8
Publisher: Crown
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