John Alexander McQUAIL (the novel's title) is born at a Catholic birthing centre in North Melbourne. The year is 1954. There is one minor birth defect: he comes into the world without a foreskin, a condition called hypospadias. His mother, Joanna Staples, vanishes from the centre and from the story by going to England with her boyfriend, leaving her son to be raised by his Gran in Albert Park. When he is about six years old he accidentally discovers his true parentage, and indeed where his name comes from. His father, it turns out, is Rev. Avrom Lezerovitch Makulski — close enough to McQuail. Since he has been raised to believe that the Jews murdered Our Lord, he is profoundly shocked. The priest to whom he confesses his secret does not believe him. The fact that he has no foreskin strengthens McQuail's doubts. His active sex life begins in his early teens with a wet dream about Lynn Pargiter, a girl in his class at school. In the event, it is Lynn's mother Dorothy who initiates him into a lifetime of determined copulation. Before long, he has played at the beast with two backs with the mothers of a number of his classmates. He becomes involved, of course through sex, with Bluecollar International, an ultraleft political group. He runs away to sea in his late teens, and has a number of sexual adventures in the South Pacific. All the while, he is reading voraciously and becoming an autodidact. Eventually, he gets an office job at the Seamen's Union office in Sydney but is sacked when he tries to seduce the wife of the union secretary. He finds work as a proofreader. He loses more jobs, and decides to go to England to try his luck. He carries a letter of introduction from Bluecollar International.Once in London, his BI contact finds him work as a subeditor on a weekly trade paper. He gets involved in the rowdier aspects of British politics, and meets Tassie de Pradines, a girl of West Indian ancestry. She becomes pregnant and they marry. Due largely to McQuail's continuing sexual rampancy the marriage lasts only about three years, and there is one daughter, Lindy Lou, or Ellell. Wife number two is Shirley, "Madame Helga" of the spiritualist weekly that comes from the same printery as McQuail's paper. It is she who gives him the idea of founding a new religion in order to make a lot of money. After a lot of work the idea is hugely successful, and within a few years Quinarism is starting to compete with the more established religions. After an attempt on his life by American evangelists, he decides to return to Australia. Shirley does not wish to leave England, and remains behind to give birth to McQuail's second child, a son. Once back in Melbourne, McQuail begins to expand his church in Australia. He meets Lynn Pargiter, his very first love. She agrees to work for him. He has a brief but damaging affair with Nancy "Bubbles" Minnelli, once an exotic dancer, now leader of the United Australia Movement. Now divorced from Shirley, he marries Lynn and buys the Collingvale Football Club. He goes on a fraternal visit to the US, and in New Orleans he is kidnapped by an ultraorthodox Jewish sect, which is seeking a new leader to replace the moribund one they have. They try every means to get him to convert to their brand of religion. But he is then kidnapped a second time by the Ku Klux Klan, who have their own agenda. Eventually he is deported from the US as a suspected Communist. His daughter Ellell, now a world-famous fashion model, visits Australia and gains notoriety when she recites Shelley's Masque of Anarchy on a popular TV programme. Unwittingly, she also becomes a pom star. At a ripe old age and after a full and rich life, the bullets of two assassins, one Jewish and one Moslem, end his career on earth. "McQuail" is subtitled "A likely story". You can see why.
Steve gives an overview of the book:
STEVE BROOK is a retired journalist with six successful novels still on the market.
McQuail (2003), Bali Sugar (2004), Now Hit Enter! (2009), For Sam (2009), Death by Teatowel (2011), Smash the White Eagle! (2013).
There is also a political memoir, Strawberries...
It’s fresh, it’s fast, it’s freaky, and fiendishly funny.
Rick Arrowsmith, the off-beat hero of ‘Now Hit Enter’ takes us on a satirical romp through community radio, cyber sex, Marxist-Leninist...