The Cut-Rate Kingdom
"1942 and the world is at war. Australia and its government look to events in Asia with alarm. Political reporter 'Paperboy' Tyson's realtionship with the Prime Minister, Johnny Mulhall, gives him a privleged insight into the man's ambivalence to war.
"While the nation struggles to establish its role amidst the far-reaching events of the day, Mulhall finds himself strangely entangled in a personal dilemma no less weighty than the demands of his public role as a ruler in a cut-rate kingdom."
"a book you can't fail to respect" - Guardian
"a brilliantly told tale of political manoeuvring" - Sunday Telegraph
"provocative fiction...it is going to kick up some dust" - Sun-Herald
What can you say of a city like this? Kings are not buried here. Nor have migrations of strangers bearing arms, trade samples and strange features come down to it through its circle of hills.
It had never seen Tartars nor - at the time of which I write - did it possess more Italians than were needed to run its fruit shops. It was and is not Budapest, it was and is not Chicago. It lacked a Latin Quarter, it was short of a Bowery. Even now, but more so then, should its dwellers ever get a taste for squalor, they have to seek it in their souls. Its suburbs remained spotless as hospital wards.
It very name still lacks any gracious evocations for me. Its name raps. I cannot put it on a page without first pausing. It does not convey the flow of a river (Paris) or the bulk of a fortress (London). Its name has the sound of say, a disease of the joints. With apologies I mark its name down.
From the Penguin paperback edition, 1984.
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Last modified: September 1, 2008.