Tough Tough Toys For Tough Tough Boys – review

Robert Clarke, April 1998

“In his new collection of short stories, Will Self once more welcomes us to the terrifyingly trenchant world of the literary recusant. With his usual irreverent wit and unrestrained surrealism, Tough Tough Toys For Tough Tough Boys sees Self move from the ridiculous to the downright absurd through a mixture of high art and low life, leaving in his wake a darkly satirical collage of contemporary fiction.”

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Tough Tough Toys For Tough Tough Boys – Washington Post

Liesl Schillinger, May 1999

“There are two kinds of writer: the kind that would relish the chance to riff on gristle – updating Proust’s “madeleine” moment by calling up as many vile impressions of humanity as possible – and the kind that would not. In his coldly accomplished new book of stories, “Tough, Tough Toys for Tough, Tough Boys,” British writer Will Self once again flaunts his membership in the first group. In the title story, the book’s centerpiece, a misogynistic, substance-abusing misanthrope named Bill tools toward Glasgow in his turbo-charged car, slugging back whiskey and letting acid-washed memories of failed relationships slosh through his brain. He picks up a hitchhiker on the way, mostly, it seems, so that there will be someone in the car besides himself to hate.”

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Tough Tough Toys For Tough Tough Boys – Bookpage Review

Charles Wyrick, 1999

“No, these are not bad jokes or out-takes from The Twilight Zone, these are quintessential Will Self creations. For all their outrageousness, these tales radiate a narrative charm. For every goofy plot turn you’ll find an equally well plotted character or adroitly spun metaphor. Whether dealing with nerdy parents or hardened drug addicts, Self nails his subjects with an exacting, invigorating stylistic temper like that of the truly great satirists. Surely Self is one of them — if that’s not too immodest a proposal.”

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Tough Tough Toys For Tough Tough Boys – Reader Reviews

7 reader reviews

“Will Self borrows a gimmick used by Kafka, Borges, and in one not-very-succesful story by Fitzgerald (A Diamond as Big as the Ritz) and, to some extent, used in all science fiction. An impossible or supernatural event is treated naturalistically, or accepted deadpan without comment by the characters.(Isaac Asimov Magazine stories do this well).
Another trademark, reminiscent of the dirty Scottish shock-writers, is descriptions of drug and alcohol use from the point of view of the user. He also favors effects that used to be called Grand Guignol and are now called splatterpunk.
These devices are used as the hinges of his plots and the entertainment values of his stories often depends on how compelling you find them. Apart from them he is a witty and perceptive satirist with some wonderful prose such as his description of the small Suffolk town “landlocked by the shifting dunes of social trends” where “the landlords of the three desultory pubs on the main street drew pints for themselves in the cool, brown, afternoon interiors of their establishments.” – D.P. Birkett