The Independent has given Walking to Hollywood five stars in its paperbacks of 2011:
“The three essays collected in Walking to Hollywood are non-fictional travelogues that spiral slowly into abstraction, similar in many ways to the ‘psychogeography’ columns on which Will Self collaborated with Ralph Steadman.
“But here the tone is markedly different, the author’s usual Technicolor exuberance tempered by a monochrome melancholy. It is significant that Steadman’s illustrations have been displaced by the sort of black-and-white photographs beloved of WG Sebald; Self’s writing seems to have taken a darker turn under the German writer’s saturnine influence. Not that this book entirely lacks the old scatological mischief. Sebald, after all, is unlikely to have described car exhausts as ‘turbofarts’.”
The Sunday Times: “In Very Little, the first in this triptych of wacky tales rooted in autobiographical reality but twisted through gonzo distortions, Self recalls an outrageously funny friend (a dwarf, with whose sister he had embarrassing teenage sex at a party). The Hollywood in the title story is a nightmare of video games and scientology where Self morphs into a female porn star and the Incredible Hulk. The last tale is a grey affair about coastal erosion, after which Self explains that the three have been themed around obsessionality, psychosis and dementia respectively. The effect is hallucinogenic, paranoid and gruellingly clever.” More...
“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.