“Considering his past antics, Self had to do something pretty special to whip up interest in “Great Apes” — and coyly confessing to shooting skag on the Major’s plane definitely qualified. If there were any doubts about Self’s motives, they were answered by his publicists, who thoughtfully included an array of clippings on the campaign heroin incident and his junkie past in the “Great Apes” press kit.
This wasn’t the first of Self’s media manipulations. When he first appeared on the literary scene over five years ago, the word got out that he was a hoax, possibly a front for some extracurricular writing by his friend Martin Amis. It didn’t hurt the mini-controversy that Self, in interviews, seemed much more interested in discussing his Nintendo scores than his writing. Self’s career has further benefited from high-class logrolling on his book jackets, where Amis, Nick Hornby, Doris Lessing, J.G. Ballard and the Sunday Times regularly sing his praises. (Some of these blurbs are somewhat underwhelming: of “The Quantity Theory of Insanity,” Hornby negligibly trumpeted “There isn’t anything like this in British fiction.”)
Self has often stated his admiration for playwright Dennis Potter and filmmaker Derek Jarman, who both used terminal illnesses to focus the British media on their final testaments. Self wants the same kind of glory, and has done his best to make sure he doesn’t have to die to get it.”