"This is a grand fable about the power of television to make cheap gods and encourage madness. Jacko Emptor, born in remote Australia, five hundred miles from the nearest locked door, has now become a star on New York television. He uses his air of innocence to invade and broadcast live from America's living rooms.
"Back home, his family pursue their own stories. Jacko's brother, the flamboyant darling of the Australian opera, develops a flair for risk and illegality. The Emptor matriarch, Cloe, hunts down Australia's famous Nobel Prize winning novelist. But it is the search for the victim of a sadistic crime which will both make and endanger Jacko's career. The horror of America is revealed by our great Australian hero."
"Keneally's prose is compact, stinging, and near-perfect, moving you back and forward into action majestically...one of the finest moral imaginations in literature" - Kirkus Reviews
"An extraordinary historical imagination...a writer of great power" - The Age
If people ever wondered how Jacko Emptor was the video trespasser he became, they should have seen where he came from. In the country in which Jacko spent his childhood, a person could have travelled five hundred miles in all available directions without encountering a single locked door.
Those who, against the odds, understood and loved big Jacko were aware of how this childhood want of locked doors, this paucity of barriers to entry, so drastically directed his later life.
You could argue that factors other than locked-door deprivation governed the direction Jacko later took. You could claim, for example, that Jacko would not have come to the most crowded and locked-up city of the western world, the Rome of its day, if Basil Sutherland, the Australian media colossus, had not raided America. Sutherland chose to found his own network in the United States, and invited in the television producer Durkin and his friend Jacko to bring peculiarly Australian tele-mayhem to an already vulgarized medium.
From the Willian Heinemann Australia hardback edition, 1993.
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Last modified: March 26, 2001.