Listen to Will Self being interviewed after his appearance at Bookslam recently and also to him giving a reading from Walking to Hollywood.
Watch ‘Obsessed with Walking’
Watch some clips from the fascinating 30-minute Australian film Obsessed with Walking by Rosie Jones, which follows Will Self around Los Angeles “doing field research” for his book Walking to Hollywood and interviews him at home in London too.
To listen to the director talking about why and how she made the film, go here. For more information about the film, visit the Flaming Star Films website. To buy a copy of Obsessed with Walking go here.
“Will Self’s just flashed me …”
The Scotsman’s verdict on Walking to Hollywood: “There must be a word – I don’t know it but Will Self will – meaning envy of eloquence, jealousy of the ability to use a large vocabulary convincingly to make the reader’s mind bounce around different levels of reality. That’s one reason Self remains such an engaging writer: the other is that underneath even his weirdest imaginings lies the kind of truths that can only be absorbed through a pair of walking feet.”
For the full review, go here
Meanwhile, Tom Sutcliffe in the Independent, writes: “When you turn to page 225 of Will Self’s new book, Walking to Hollywood, you get a modest surprise – or perhaps that should be an immodest one. There, at the bottom of page 227, is a picture of a naked man. As in the Duchess of Argyll’s notorious Polaroids, the man is in effect headless as the picture has been taken in what looks like a bathroom mirror and the reflection crops him off just above the nipples. Unlike the Duchess of Argyll’s Polaroids, it is a sexually innocent image, the shadows in the shot concealing all anatomical detail. One arm hangs down beside the torso; the other is out of sight, presumably holding the camera with which this odd image has been taken. And what makes it particularly arresting is your reasonable assumption, as a reader, that this is a portrait of the author. “Will Self’s just flashed me,” you think, before you turn your attention back to his prose – which both demands and deserves it.” Read the rest of his article here.
Sutcliffe also discusses Self’s new book on Radio 4’s Saturday Review with, among others, Iain Sinclair. You can listen to it here.
Devilish Business on the South Downs
A curious incident on the South Downs: driving my eldest son and his stuff down to his new rented accommodation in Brighton, prior to his second year at Sussex University, we pulled the van off the motorway and drove up towards Devil’s Dyke. I wanted to show Lex the Dyke, and also his youngest brother, Luther, who was along for the ride. My own father used to take me up here on the weekends we spent in Brighton at my grandparents’ house on Vernon Terrace, and he would always tell the folk tale about how the Dyke was dug by the Devil to flood the Sussex Weald, but that he was surprised in the middle of the night by an old woman cotter lighting her oil lamp, and taking it for the dawn he jumped all the way to the North Downs where he landed forming the Devil’s Punchbowl on impact.
I digress – although not without purpose, the Dyke also features in the book I’ve just published, Walking to Hollywood. What goes around … Anyway, instead of taking the spur to the Dyke car park in towards the golf club we found the road closed with a police barrier and a bored-looking WPC standing in front of it. “You can’t come this way,” she said when I’d wound down the window, “haven’t you heard about the body found on the golf course?” Well, no – but what none of us Londoners had heard of before was cops so keen to impart. In the Smoke they wouldn’t give you the time of day, but down here in Miss Marpleville we got all the dope: according to the WPC, said corpse was “badly charred” and – here her voice dropped to a conspiratorial undertone – “the feet had been chopped off”.
I suggested it might’ve been that most loathsome of crimes, an “honour killing”, but the WPC looked at me as if I were a fool. Maybe she thought it was the Devil what done it.
Walking to Hollywood, an early review
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.
Walking to Hollywood tour dates
Some forthcoming tour dates with Will Self talking about Walking to Hollywood:
September 7 at the Ropetackle Arts Centre in Shoreham, West Sussex. Details here.
September 9 at the SW11 festival in London. Details here.
September 13 at Arnolfini, Bristol. Details here.
September 14 at Topping books in Bath. Details here.
September 17 at Cambridge Arts Centre. Details here.
October 4 at Clapham Bookshop, 7pm. More details here.
October 11, Ilkley literature festival. Details here.
October 8 at the Oxford Play House “reading selections from his latest novel, Walking to Hollywood, a fictionalised memoir of some of his own more extreme urban peregrinations, including a week-long circumambulation of Los Angeles. Self will also be discussing the death of film, the industrialisation of urban space and the virtualisation of the human psyche – although not necessarily in that order!” More details here.
October 12 at the Morley literature festival. Details here.
October 24 at the Hackney Dissenting Academy with Iain Sinclair. Details here.
November 4 Gloucester Guildhall, details here.
January 24 at Komedia in Brighton. Details here.
More to follow …
Why size in art matters
Will Self has written a big piece for the Guardian’s Review section, published tomorrow, writing about his preoccupation with scale, tracing his interest in it from his short story Scale through to his new book, Walking to Hollywood. Read the article here.
Ilkley literature festival
Will Self will once again be appearing at the Ilkley literature festival on Monday October 11 at 7.30pm at the Kings Hall to talk about his latest book, Walking to Hollywood. Tickets go on sale on August 31.
Edinburgh book festival
Will Self is going to be at the Edinburgh book festival at 9.30pm on Sunday August 29 and will be reading from and talking about his new book, Walking to Hollywood (which can be ordered from Amazon here). Titled “The dreams and fantasies of an obsessive-compulsive flâneur”, the event costs £10 (£8 concessions).
“Self’s mordant satire is at the peak of its form in a new triptych, Walking to Hollywood, a potent mixture of memoir and invention, which centres on his passion for wandering on foot around cities. Eventually Self decides to take a walk on British land that is about to be consumed by the sea.”
To book a ticket and to find out more, go here.
Walking to Hollywood
Bloomsbury filmed Will Self in a teaser for Walking to Hollywood – a mixture of fact, fancy, memoir and invention – which was published on September 6 2010.
“Walking to Hollywood is an extraordinary triptych in which Will Self burrows down through the intersections of time, place and psyche to explore some of our deepest fears and anxieties with his characteristic fearlessness and edgy humour.
“In the autumn of 2007, Self became ill with an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The first part of the book is ostensibly the account of a curative journey to Canada and the USA, but in fact the record of a nematode’s progress, as the worm of obsession – with scale and packing and the ‘stuff’ of our lives – bores through a mind in extremesis. It is a journey that leads to three suicide attempts.
“On his return to England, Self put himself in the care of Dr Zack Busner, one of the originators of The Quantity Theory of Insanity. As the symptoms of OCD diminish, the obsession with his own inability to suspend disbelief in narrative art forms takes over. Self convinces himself that film itself is dead and becomes determined to find the murderer of the medium he once loved. ‘Walking to Hollywood’ is the story of his week-long 120-mile circumambulation of Los Angeles which led to his abduction by members of the Church of Scientology, a passionate affair with Bret Easton Ellis, and mortal combat with the reanimated corpse of Walt Disney.
“Back in London, the writer recovers from his flamboyant psychosis of the summer, only to become aware of a new malaise. Prey for some years to ordinary amnesia, Self now realises he is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. However, remembering that Holderness in East Yorkshire has the fastest-eroding coastline in Europe, the writer decides to take a 40-mile walk over a weekend in late July, a walk akin to a magical rite and one that no one would ever be able to replicate.”