Everyone's Gone to the Moonby Philip Norman
The bestselling author of Shout!, the definitive book on the Beatles, now offers a comic novel that dissects the office politics and bedroom shenanigans of trendy journalists in Beatles-era London, evoking the world of sixties pop music and high fashion with thorough authenticity.
Plucked from the British sticks after unexpectedly winning an essay contest, 22-year-old Louis Brennan is transplanted to the decadent offices of the Dispatch's Sunday color supplement and reunited with his old boss from the North, Jack Shildrick, who has ascended to the editorship of the dowdy daily. Shildrick favors stories on crusty yachtsman plodding around the globe with rescued pigeons and exposés that batter the excesses of moneyed society, while the supplement's editor, Toby Godwin ("God" to his staff), between colossal meals and multiple magnums of Dom, sponsors flashy pieces on cultural trends from Twiggy to the Beatles. Louis gropes for attention, but while God and his minions sniff and chortle at the kid's ideas, Shildrick cleaves to him, calling him "Poet" and repeatedly offering him the coveted "Cicero" column. Matters get dicey, though, when Louis and Shildrick take up with the same chippie, a talentless but terribly manipulative ingénue named Fran Dyson, and dicier still when Louis blows the lid off the married Shildrick's affair. The author's detailed re-creation of the era is impressive, from the vanished fashion temples to the nocturnal hotspots to the theatrical foppishness of mod menswear. But, at bottom, the story is a retread of the corruption-of-the-innocent riff, clueful readers will see the collapse of all careers (and great expectations) a mile off. Still, with cameos from John and George and Mick and Keith and Brian and Marianne, and of course all those zany threads, the novel's awesome length is nicely pacedthanks, too, to Norman's unsparing humor.
Given the recent obsession with all things Mod, this delightful upbraiding of the period should offer an ideal tonic for misplaced nostalgia. It's funny, too.
- Random House Adult Trade Publishing Group
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