“Surreal, scurrilous, solipsistic, sarcastic, and sardonic, Self’s newest bit of unclassifiable literature continues his career-long carpet-bombing of contemporary culture’s most heinous aspects, sparing no one, including the author himself.” A review of Walking to Hollywood at Salon.
And from a review at Boston.com: “From mad, marvelous, swirling bits of narrative disorder, Self fashions his scathing satiric denunciations of the eroded artistic, cultural, and moral values of a solipsistic media-driven world … While Self’s ultimate vision is grim, it is described in dazzling bursts of verbal pyrotechnics … The language here is as rich as Vladimir Nabokov’s, the rage as deep as Jonathan Swift’s, the narrative as convoluted as Nathanael West’s.”
The Guardian: “You see suddenly that, beneath the apocalyptic humour and fizzing contempt of Walking to Hollywood lies the iron will and cold, self-inspecting intelligence of its author. All along the book has been about death.”
The Spectator: “The conversations with Scooby-Doo, the made-up characters, the sex, lies and videotape – this is a landscape contoured, almost in whole, by Self’s imagination … It is, as always, a place crammed with a Devil’s Dictionary’s worth of wordplay, and with an unerring tendency towards the absurd and perverse … Walking to Hollywood is certainly an engaging enough breakdown on the part of its author. Just make sure to approach it with all the professional detachment of a psychiatrist.” More...
Walking to Hollywood, Will Self’s new book, is published by Bloomsbury today. One of the first reviews is from the Sunday Times, who said that it was “Casually delirious and unfailingly precise … the whole book is a painfully brilliant performance full of Self’s characteristic obsessions with scale, texture and metamorphosis. The overall effect is hallucinogenic, paranoid and almost gruellingly clever.”
There was an interview with Self in the Telegraph last week talking about the book, which can be found here.
“A bravura collection of short stories about a much-abused human organ”
Will Self is rightly admired for the sheer energy of his writing, his pyrotechnic wit and wordplay, and his willingness to experiment with genre and narrative. He is also criticised as ill-disciplined, self-indulgent and more concerned with style than substance. These strengths and weaknesses are both on display in Liver, which he characteristically subtitles A Fictional Organ with a Surface Anatomy of Four Lobes. This is not simply a fancy way of saying the book consists of four interrelated stories: “surface anatomy” is a technical term for the description of features that can be discerned merely by looking at, rather than dissecting, an organism. So, is there more here than meets and dazzles the eye? More...
Another review of the “electrifying” Psycho Too and its “other-worldy brilliance” , from the New York Times.
A couple of US reviews of Liver, published by Bloomsbury USA in hardback in the States, the first from the Washington Post, which said that the four stories collected here “are for those who like their stories brainy, cunning, hard-edged and diabolical”; and the second from the New Yorker, which said that the characters were, ahem, “difficult to like” …
A couple of reviews of Psycho Too; one by The Literateur; the other The Metro.
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. More...
“There are occasions when Archive on 4 just works. Saturday night’s Self on Ballard (Radio 4) was one. In the programme, Will Self reviewed the life and work of JG Ballard with both intellect and feeling. The men were friends until Ballard’s death in April. Self presented snippets of interviews with Ballard recorded at various stages of his life, together with judiciously selected readings of his works.”
To read the rest of the Daily Telegraph review of Self’s recent Archive on 4 programme, visit the Telegraph website.