Saturday, 19 April 2014

An Angry Michael Moorcock

This is a letter from Michael Moorcock published in the June, 1977, issue of Books and Bookmen.

I might take poor old Duncan Fallowell's criticism of myself and other writers more seriously if there was ever any evidence he had read (or understood) the books he reviews. A few weeks ago I had final confirmation of my suspicions when I came across several of my own books for sale in a local shop a good many weeks before publication and only about a week after they had gone out for review. One of the books still had uncut pages. The person who had sold them to the shop was, it emerged, none other than Duncan Fallowell. If he thinks the writers he mentions lack experience I'm not sure what constitutes experience in Fallowell's terms. One of the writers mentioned experienced the fire-bombing of Dresden; another spent six years of his adolescence in a Japanese prison camp; another pulled himself out of a quite awe-inspiring addiction to 'hard' drugs; another is homosexual and has had years of trauma....But the distinctive mark of the 'New Worlds' writer, if there is one (none of these writers ever see one another more than once a year at the most!) is their use of irony to handle their experience. And irony, of course, is what bewildered old Fallowell can't grasp. He's not alone. And that's the saddest fact of all. Langdon Jones is, I'd agree, a very fine writer (and would be astonished to learn that he's working he's working as a caretaker in Wales) who has written some excellent ironic pieces ('Ludwig van Beethoven II', for instance) but by and large his style is direct, as Peake's is, and doesn't make a great use of irony, in the prose at any rate. But it's silly to go on. Suffice to say that if Fallowell continues to do his work so unconscientiously (never quoting to prove his cases, I note) I'll be happy to provide him not only with a bit of my angst but also to demonstrate the skill I picked up somewhere in my uneventful life of breaking knee-caps with iron bars. I could always, if he'd prefer, horsewhip him with any one of my wide selection of crops. Anyway, I'll do him some sort of violence, on principle, if he ever pretends to review my books again.

Michael Moorcock