Jerusalem Commands: The Third Volume of the Colonel Pyat Quartet

, , Alan Wall

”I will admit I was lured into temptation during the twenties and thirties, and I blame no one for what happened then, least of all myself.”

Unmistakably, this is the voice of Colonel Pyat, addict, inventor, and bizarre Everyman for the twentieth century. In Jerusalem Commands, the third of the Pyat quartet, our hero schemes and fantasises his way from New York to Hollywood, from Cairo to Marrakech, from cult success to the utter limits of sexual degradation, leaving a trail of mechanical and human wreckage in his wake as he crashes towards an inevitable appointment with the worst nightmare this century has to offer.

It is Michael Moorcock’s extraordinary achievement to convert the life of Maxim Pyatnitski into epic and often hilariously comic adventure. Sustained by his dreams and profligate inventions, his determination to turn his back on the realities of his own origins, Pyat runs from crisis to crisis, every ruse a further link in a vast chain of deceit, suppression, betrayal. Yet, in his deranged self-deception, his monumentally distorted vision, this thoroughly unreliable narrator becomes a lens for focusing, through the dimensions of wild farce and chilling terror, on an uneasy brand of truth.

Praise:

“Ostensibly, Pyat’s voyages from California to Casablanca and Cairo are those of any picaresque hero, plunging into adventure, danger and miraculous escape, without any purpose except the next step of the journey. But it is also a journey through the prejudices of the 1920s, from the subliminal racism of the British empire and the suppressed antisemitism of Hollywood to the dawning supermanship of fascism.”
—Andro Linklater, Sunday Times (UK)

“There is a feast in store for those who have never been dazzled and disturbed by Michael Moorcock’s eye for the absurd and gift for fantasy, and confirmation for those familiar with his work, that he is one of the most original authors of our time.”
Sunday Telegraph (UK)

“Moorcock’s powers of description—especially when focused on the sights and smells of megalopoli—and his range of references are immense.”
—Mark Sanderson, Times Literary Supplement

“Few novelists have risen above the orthodox categories of fiction to produce something as expansive and elaborate as this.”
—Peter Ackroyd, Sunday Times (UK)

“New adventures both picaresque and grotesque take [Pyat] across bootlegging America, like a hobo, to Hollywood as actor, writer and set-designer; to Egypt with various film-making eccentrics, only to end up enacting scenes of lurid degradation for a powerful pervert… Such escapades are Hollywood and schoolboy fantasy seen through the eyes of a talented inventor who is also a bigoted racist, egoist and abuser of women. Moorcock shows us through this remarkable but odious bore that fascistic attitudes are not as far removed from some forms of popular fiction and fantasy as we might prefer to think.”
—Robert O’Brien, Time Out London

About the Contributors:

Born in London in 1939, Michael Moorcock now lives in Texas and Paris, France. A prolific and award-winning writer with more than eighty works of fiction and nonfiction to his name, he is the creator of Elric, Jerry Cornelius, and Colonel Pyat amongst many other memorable characters.

Alan Wall is a novelist, short story writer, poet, and essayist. His novels include Bless the ThiefThe Lightning CageThe School of NightChina, and Sylvie’s Riddle. He is currently Professor of Writing and Literature at the University of Chester.

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