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King of the City Paperback – 8 May 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (8 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684861445
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684861449
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.8 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 204,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 May 2001
Format: Paperback
This was brilliant. It's out in ordinary paperback now and about the best six or seven quid's worth of EVERYTHING I have read in a very long time. I've already bought three copies to give away. I know rock and roll bands and Moorcock really captures the feel of the early and mid-70s during the last real UK rock and roll revival, when throwing the baby out with the bathwater was the object of getting rid of the bathwater. If you want to know about all the great, largely unpublicised rock and rollers of the seventies, this is like a STIFF ALBUM come to life -- Costello, Lowe, Parker, Edmunds, Stone -- they're all in this. This was a huge, seminal time in British rock and roll. Ian Dury, Wreckless Eric and Billy Bragg all turn up in this, in one way or another. Moorcock is the ONLY novelist who can write about rock and roll from the point of view of someone who has been in a successful rock band right at the centre of the 'alternative' culture of the seventies, and has his gold discs and collapsing nostrils to prove it! History of Notting Hill in the days before Amis and Hollywood reduced the place to sentimental fiction. This is a bitterer voice than Mother London and nicely offset by London Bone, which came out with the paperback of King. Bone in some ways is a more familiar, humane Moorcock voice than this. More like Mother London. But I loved this book just as much. Hits you the same way a good Stiff record used to hit you when I was a lad in the Seventies and we still thought we could make the world rock to our our own tunes. Roots info and a great tale, masses of characters, London lore, tremendous and mentally stimulating analysis of our consumerist society and a very funny denouement indeed! Gripping story, laugh-aloud jokes, memorable characters, wise words, fine prose. Hours of happy reading. If I knew you I'd give you a copy, too. KH.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "redbab" on 8 Feb. 2004
Format: Paperback
I got this for Christmas and had finished it the day after Boxing Day. What a trip! One long rush of words and ideas that makes all the Will Selfs and Nick Hornbys look like witless amateurs. I wish I'd know about this book sooner. I enjoyed Mother London enormously. It is a warm, generous, deep and moving book. King of the City reads as if that generous heart has finally taken all it can stand. Its clever understanding of Blair's arrogance and dreams, its description of the Royal Family, its anger over Rwanda and Bosnia anticipate the worse that was to come. Yet that love of London -- for all that this London is mainly invented (though very credible) -- shines through and the coda in the bleak seaside town reminds you of every bad British holiday you've ever taken. I can't recommend King of the City enough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Jan. 2001
Format: Paperback
This book has so many thought provoking issues in it, yet seems as pacy as a good thriller. The characters are beautifully written. You really do seem to get into their skin. Which is a bit of a worry when some of them are absolute bastards! Although it evokes London magnificently, and London is a central character, the story could essentially be based anywhere. Anywhere that is, that has seen a human scale city ripped apart by fast moneyed development. I loved the way Moorcock weaved real characters into the storyline. Particularly the cameo by Lemmy. In a way the story may be looked upon as an extension of Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes especially in the first half of the book- a young man concerned about the evils going on around him in London - although the comparison ends when Dennis begins to see just how big the stakes are in the games that the people around him are playing. One quibble. The proof reader needed to pay more attention. A couple of examples: on one page Dennis says he has just turned 21, on the next he is just 20. And spelling of names - it is Eddie Cochran (not Eddie Cochrane) - this annoyed me particularly because the writing about the guitar was so vivid. And Salmon Rushdi! (maybe the author was having a joke)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 May 2000
Format: Hardcover
It wouldn't be exaggeration to compare this extraordinarily rich book to Dickens, Balzac or even Andrei Biely, author of 'Petersburg'. These were writers who took the dizzying tapestry of metropolis life for their canvas, its cast of thousands and blend of high drama and low; now Michael Moorcock has set himself among his great forbears once again with one of his favourite subjects, London.
His earlier 'Mother London', considered by many to be his masterpiece, showed the density of the city's history, stories and lives piled in endless layers (quite literally when it came to the scenes in the Blitz). 'King of the City' by comparison shows us the noise and energy of the surface, the capital as a hustling, vibrant universe-in-miniature, a place of spivs, chancers, racketeers, careerists and, in the background, ordinary people trying to get through life the best they can. The book follows the exploits of Denny Dover from his childhood in the bomb-ruined back streets through the city's Swinging heyday in the 60s to his rise as a leading paparazzo in the 80s and 90s, when the spivs had names like Murdoch, Maxwell and Thatcher (all embodied here in the sinister figure of Sir John Barbican Begg, another of the author's great, memorable villains). Art (well, rock music...), culture and politics all blend together in a heady, gumbo-like brew. Like the novelists of old, this book has an epic sweep, covering a span of fifty years (the same span as the author's amazing career) and seeking to encompass all that's worth communicating about what, these days, seems to be the only city worth writing about. As one of Dover's employers might put it: "All human life is here".
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