MY NAME IS LEGION

A. N. Wilson, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $26 (512p) ISBN 978-0-374-21742-6

Wilson's latest novel is like a medieval gargoyle set on an outhouse—the elegance and elaboration of its malignancy is in dramatic disproportion to the value of the object it graces. Said object is the Daily Legion , a British tabloid run by a magnate of exemplary wickedness, Lennox Mark, who hails from a former African colony now run by a General Bindiga. Mark's wealth derives from his "silent partnership" with Bindiga in slave-labor copper mines and cocoa plantations. If Mark is the Mark of the Beast in this novel, goodness is represented by Father Vivyan Chell, a Thomas Merton–ish character whose mission in Bindiga's Zinariya acquainted him with Bindiga's grievous misrule. Now back in London, Chell is planning some possibly violent protest upon Bindiga's upcoming visit to England. To disable Chell, Mark employs a boy named Peter d'Abo to accuse him of pederasty. Unbeknownst to Chell and Mark is that Peter is a link between the two of them: both had flings with his mother, and either could be his father. Peter's mind is a cacophony of voices, a parody of English pop culture: he is literally possessed. Wilson triangulates between the poisonous office politics of the Legion , the trail of Peter's madness and Chell's frustration with an England that has become "a pointless, amoral cauldron of putrescence." The dreadful, scheming vitality of Wilson's characters richly rewards the persistent reader. Agent, Gillon Aitken . (May)

Reviewed on: 03/14/2005
Release date: 05/01/2005
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