Will Self’s talk from October 2018 at the Hillingdon Literary Festival, which begins with a reading from a section of his short story “Scale” (from Grey Area). Will discusses the writing of his books Walking to Hollywood and Phone, the importance of the M40 in his fiction, pretending to be British, the Iraq war and a little about his new memoir, Will, which is due to be published in November.
Greg Heinimann at Bloomsbury has created a series of new book covers for Will Self’s back catalogue to coincide with the paperback publication of Walking to Hollywood (below) in September. The new covers are for My Idea of Fun, The Quantity Theory of Insanity, Cock & Bull, The Sweet Smell of Psychosis, Junk Mail, Grey Area, Great Apes and The Butt.
Read a short report about it in Creative Review here.
I’ve been working all morning on the stage adaptation of my 1993 short story ‘Scale’, which appeared first in the literary magazine Granta and latterly in my collection ‘Grey Area’. Ostensibly the tale of a man with a severe DIY opiate addiction, living next to a model village, ‘Scale’ is perhaps my most Borgesian of stories, in that I tried to incorporate within it 5,ooo-odd years of human history (massive time scale), and every known literary genre – oral ballad, free verse, academic thesis, thriller, stream-of-consciousness &c. Naturally, there are also myriad plays on all the available senses of the word ‘scale’: kettle, music, lizard, bathroom &c. When I was writing it I gloried – as we monoglots all must – in the rich synonymy of the English language.
3 reader reviews
“This collection of short stories was so brilliant, it took my breath away. I agree with the last reviewer that Self’s stories are better than his novels. And I think of all his short story collections, this is the best. It is dazzling but also Self at his most accessible and readable.” – A Reader
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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.”
These stories create a world of oddity superimposed on an ordinary world. They include six controllers running the whole of London life in all its minutiae; a nightmare tour of Soho where everyone professes to be a writer, and the discovery in 1000 years’ time of our strange motorway culture.