King of the City by Michael Moorcock - review by Christopher Hart

Christopher Hart

Joyful Logorrhoea

King of the City


Scribner 421pp £16.99 hbk £9.99 pbk order from our bookshop

King of the City ends on a ringing note of affirmation, eulogising the sound of the bells of London: ‘A great celebration of our enduring blood, of our will to justice and equity. Of the power of love.’

Mercifully, although Moorcock may occasionally preach such platitudes, he doesn't practise them. Instead, he has written a novel stuffed full of ill temper, vulgar appetites, tabloids, sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. Mother London, his previous Big, Contemporary Metropolitan Novel, was sprawling and messy and overlong. It also entertained the rather dubious, romantic, Ken Kesey and R D Laing view of mental illness as a state of beatitude. King of the City is just as long and messy, but it is also harder-edged, and much better for it.

It opens, like Ian McEwan's Enduring Love, with a memorable balloon scene - but there the similarity ends. Instead of McEwan's glacial control, you have Moorcock's sprawling, elephantine narrative, and an unmistakable case of logorrhoea. Take the second sentence of the novel:

Call it divine coincidence, good instincts or bad timing,

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