CW, March 1996
“Speaking on the phone from London (“inner suburbia”), Self says of his new neighborhood, “It’s pretty grim, but it’s my spiritual home,” before going on to describe, as if it were the Piazza San Marco, the view from his roof terrace: “I can see the Westway slicing through like a river, leaving behind a great oxbow. In terms of Grey Area I’m at the navel of the world. The absolute beginning of the M40.”
Raised in an “effortlessly dull” London borough (“If we wanted to be posh we called it Hampstead Garden, and if we wanted to be honest we said East Finchley”), Self describes a “peculiar obsession with suburbia” that informs his work: “I have a tricky duel lineage: my mother was a Jewish American, so I was raised by somebody who every day was reshocked by the fact of the privet-lined precincts. On the other hand she was quite an Anglophile. So I have an ambivalence and an acceptance of it.” This mixture, says Self, has helped him make “something outrageous out of the dull.”"