by PD Smith
The Guardian (UK)
April 10, 2012
This collection of Moorcock’s nonfiction spans more than half a century and includes several pieces published after 2006, the cut-off point for John Davey’s earlier compilation, Into the Media Web. It includes some wonderfully intimate articles about Moorcock growing up in south London during the blitz. The bombed out cityscape, colonised by rosebay willowherb, was “a wonderland,” a terra incognita to be explored.
Whether he is describing the bleakness of 1950s London (“all my girlfriends wore black and thought a lot about suicide”) or the “smugness” and conformity of modern London (“I like my classes mixed”), Moorcock writes with genuine love for the city. There are heartfelt pieces on fellow Londoners JG Ballard, Angela Carter and Iain Sinclair, as well as authors, such as Edgar Rice Burroughs (“a master tale-spinner”), Philip K. Dick and Mervyn Peake, whose Titus Groan novels he describes as “idiosyncratic works of genius.” It’s a pity there’s no index but nevertheless this is a fine selection.
London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction edited by Michael Moorcock and Allan Kausch is published by Merlin Press, £17.99