Website exclusive: Foie Humain read by Will Self

Val Carmichael credited Pete Stenning — who was called ‘the Martian’ — with getting him off the gin and on to the vodka. “Cleaver cunt, the Martian,” Val said to the assembled members, who were grouped at the bar of the Plantation Club in their alloted positions …

Listen to Will Self read the start of Foie Humain here and then here, the first of his four part story-cycle in Liver, which is available as an unabridged audio book from Whole Story Audio Books for £19.99 here.

Audio exclusive: The Minor Character

I went to dinner at the McCluskeys’ and the Brookmans were there, as usual — and the Vignoles as well …

An exclusive for the website this. Listen to Will Self reading The Minor Character, an unpublished short story, which will be part of his collection of short stories, The Undivided Self, to be published by Bloomsbury USA in October. Self recorded The Minor Character while he was narrating an unabridged audio version of Liver, which will be published by Whole Story Audio Books in September.

Literature, History and the Humanization of Bioethics

An interesting paper entitled Literature, History and the Humanization of Bioethics by Nathan Emmerich (Bioethics, 9999 (9999) 2010) quotes from Self’s Leberknödel story from Liver. The full text can be obtained here, but this is the relevant section:

“There is little doubt that literature can be a tool for the teaching of bioethics. Consider this passage from one of Will Self’s short stories:

‘Tis Pity He Was a Horsley

To Sebastian Horsley’s funeral at St James’s in Piccadilly. I first met Seb in the early 1990s, he was living in Mayfair in order – or so he maintained – to be near to the prostitutes. He had the dead-white face of a Weimar cabaret compère, and the lisp of a studied aesthete. When we went out to the cash point together to get money for the dealer, Seb revealed that he had a loaded revolver back at the flat. I was furious – I’ve never liked guns, and guns and crack cocaine (as history seems to bear out), are seldom a good combo.

David Eagleman talk

At the Conway Hall (conwayhall.org.uk) in central London, on March 25, Will Self was in conversation with David Eagleman, the neuroscientist and author of Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives. It was a case of an eager Eagleman versus a stoical Self.

Sum’s 40 mutually exclusive stories are, said Eagleman, a critique of certainty, a “meta-message” shining a flashlight around the “possibility space”. Self gently ribbed Eagleman on his neologism of “possibilianism”, which he said didn’t exactly trip off the tongue and that, besides, it reminded him of the word bilious. He told him he preferred his own coinage – “radical agnosticism”.

A critical essay on Leberknödel from Liver

Liver Let Die
Will Self’s newest collection, Liver, contains a novella, Leberknödel, that is set in Zurich and has a protagonist called Joyce Beddoes. Call me an obsessive Irishman, but put “Zurich” and “Joyce” together and you automatically come up with James Joyce, who wrote a number of chapters of Ulysses in Zurich, died and is buried there. The link seems obvious to me. When you discover that Self’s Joyce eats a meal at the famous Kronenhalle (James Joyce’s favourite hangout and the place where he ate his last proper meal) and that she has reserved a plot in Fluntern cemetery (the very same cemetery where James Joyce lies buried), then you know that the sequence of coincidences is not a sequence of coincidences. Strangely, in British reviews of Self’s book in the likes of The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent and the Times Literary Supplement, not one critic has picked up on this. If the allusions to James Joyce were simply decorative then perhaps the reviewers could be forgiven for leaving it unmentioned. But to miss the ghostly absence of James Joyce in this occult novella is to read a different story then the one Self has written.