Mother London Hardcover – 1 Jan 1989
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Michael Moorcock's Mother London is perhaps his best known literary work and for good reason. Shortlisted for the Whitbread fiction prize this has the feel of a novel by a writer at the acme of his powers. A large, though never sprawling, novel Mother London follows three mental-hospital outpatients Mary Gasalee, David Mummery and Josef Kiss and their friends, in an episodic, non-linear history of the capital from the Blitz to present day. Most noteworthy is the astounding humanity of the novel (a quality redolent in all his work including its excellent follow up King of the City), with all of London's outcasts and marginals mentioned and defended. This could have reduced the novel to polemic, to parody or to the dreadful, mind-narrowing of political correctness but instead is testimony to the fact that Moorcock has created such a fine array of believable, flawed, kind characters.
Throughout the book the voice of ordinary Londoners forces its way into the narratives through snippets of conversations "overheard" by the three main characters who each have, to a greater or lesser extent, the gift of telepathy. This hint of magic is underplayed throughout so that the work never succumbs to the straitjacket of magical realism itself: the conceit is used very successfully to take our characters out of themselves, and to allow London, and the voices that constitute her being, into the novel as a character herself. A vast and superb achievement (London novelists such as Charles Dickens, Peter Ackroyd and Iain Sinclair all come to mind as peers), Mother London is a book to cherish--rarely have the voices of this wonderful city spoken out so clearly through such an expansive story. --Mark Thwaite --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
One of the most influential and much-loved London novels of the 20th century returns to print, overseen and revised by the author. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
Only the device of using 'voices' -- a sort of Londoners' chorus -- makes this book in any way fantastic. He takes a triangle of disparate people -- a music hall performer, a reclusive writer and a woman who has awakened from a coma after many years -- and describes them, their relatives and friends during the years from 1942 (the Blitz) to 1988, but it is not the typical 'family saga'. Its picture of an entire city is loving and at the same time profound. It could be read in conjunction with Peter Ackroyd's non-fiction about London and give you a very thorough picture of the city. I came to Michael Moorcock recently and have read his fantasy (though I am not much of a fantasy reader) as well as his literary fiction and I find that whenever I feel like a thoroughly satisfying read I reach either for a new Moorcock (one I haven't read) or Mother London, which always delivers more than the first, second or even third time I read it. It has my heartfelt recommendation!
The Dancers at the End of Time, but his non sf --
The Brothel in Rosenstrasse, Byzantium Endures,
King of the City, London Bone -- is probably the best fiction by any living English writer, both for its depth, its breadth, its poetry and its
'attack'. This honestly feels in many ways like the work of a modern -- and a very modern --
Dickens. His later Jerry Cornelius stories also have some of the same quality. But Mother London is, in my mind, his masterpiece.
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