The House of Rumour: A Novel
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Mixing the invented and the real, The House of Rumour explores WWII spy intrigue (featuring Ian Fleming), occultism (Aleister Crowley), the West Coast science-fiction set (Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and Philip K. Dick all appear), and the new wave music scene of the ’80s. The decades-spanning, labyrinthine plot even weaves in The Jonestown Massacre and Rudolf Hess, UFO sightings and B-movies. Told through multiple narrators, what at first appears to be a constellation of random events begins to cohere as the work of a shadow organization—or is it just coincidence?
Tying the strands together is Larry Zagorski, an early pulp fiction writer turned U.S. fighter pilot turned “American gnostic,” who looks back on his long and eventful life, searching for connections between the seemingly disparate parts. The teeming network of interlaced secrets he uncovers has personal relevance—as it mirrors a book of 22 interconnected stories he once wrote, inspired by the major arcana cards in the tarot.
Hailed as an heir to Don DeLillo’s Underworld by The Guardian, The House of Rumour is a tour de force that sweeps the reader through a century’s worth of secret histories.
around the trump cards in the Tarot deck. Zagorski spent longer on this novel than any other and he was never happy with it. It started with such promise, I mean it just seemed to write itself until I got up to the sixteenth card, and then – wham! It was the Tower! I was back at my first story, back trying to find my lost father. I felt that I was being led into a hall of mirrors, stuck in some awful time warp. I’d been doing primal therapy, rebirthing, stuff like that, and, of course,
left it the night before. The book’s red dust jacket was stamped with the provocative motto: LEFT BOOK CLUB EDITION. NOT FOR SALE TO THE PUBLIC. Not an imprint he would usually subscribe to; indeed, he was outspokenly conservative (though in private far more liberal than he seemed). It was titled Swastika Night by Murray Constantine and it contained a premonition of the plan that he was forming, shaped by the meetings he had had with M, the rumours that had come to light from a German
Soon he would be trapped in the martial bureaucracy of Room 39, or sulking in his study where his rare books would taunt him from their shelves. But for now he had a storehouse of ideas, of characters and settings, and he would save them up. For the day when he came to write it all down. Miller washed her face and walked into the bedroom. As she pulled back the heavy blackout curtain, a column of light slowly stretched across the floor. Her eyes watered slightly as she blinked against the
little touches of his into some of my programmes but when I tentatively mentioned ‘psychological strategy’ he smiled and shook his head. ‘There’s no big conspiracy, Mary-Lou, really there isn’t,’ he insisted. ‘We can let things run by themselves for a while. But you know what’s really interesting? We all live in a science-fiction world now. It’s become part of mass consciousness.’ It reminded me of what Larry had said about the great future being already behind us. Within our short lives so
replaced in a bright and unforgiving open-plan. But as he made his way along the corridor, it seemed still the same dank labyrinth he had known from his days at Information Research. The director of his old department was a woman. That was the shock he could not quite adjust to. Oh, he knew he had to. After all, there had been eight years of a female prime minister. They were everywhere in power these days. He remembered this one from when she was an assistant desk officer fresh from the