Pick up a copy of the brand new INQUE magazine to read Will’s new short story. Other contributors include Margaret Atwood, Max Porter, Joyce Carol Oates, Ocean Vuong, Tom Waits, Ben Lerner, Alexander Chee, Kae Tempest and Hanif Kureishi.
“It’s usually a mistake for a fiction writer to rush into print with a story that takes flight, imaginatively, from events that are still underway, and which are affecting large numbers of people. In the case of the Covid-19 pandemic, this injunction to keep out would seem to be as strident as the black-and-yellow striped tape swagged about a crime scene.
“What moved me to nonetheless ignore all warnings and respond fictionally was twofold: an editor who I deeply respect – Alex Bilmes at British Esquire – asked me to; and I already had an embryonic tale, which, once I began considering the matter, extended into my fervid psyche, like the lengthening protein ‘spike’ on a coronavirus virion.
“‘All Actors Have Died’ existed in my mind in the form of this title alone – and trailing behind it came a half-formed set of ideas about the relation between mediatisation and dissimulation which were brought into the sharpest of focus by the pandemic. So it is, that I can imagine having written the story even if the pandemic hadn’t been underway at the time – although I worry, if I had, it would’ve been a fiction that might’ve summoned this reality …”
Read Will’s short story ‘All Actors Have Died’, published in Esquire‘s Summer Fiction issue and read by James Nesbitt here.
“Sitting at a bar, dabbling with a digital map on his phone, the man is approached by another. He ignores him but later discovers the stranger is connected to this phone map. Connected in a disturbing way …” Listen to Will reading his short story at the Radio 4 website here (available for 19 days).
Listen to Will Self’s story Popping Out at the BBC Radio 4 website here.
Listen to Will Self’s recent evening of short stories at the Royal Academy here.
Read this short story by Will Self at the Guardian here.
“Dr Shiva Mukti, a psychiatrist at St Mungo’s, a small and down-at-heel general hospital situated – rather bizarrely – in the dusty pit left behind when the Middlesex Hospital was demolished in the spring of 2008, had, through various serpentine manipulations, got hold of his senior colleague Dr Zack Busner’s mobile phone number, and this he proceeded to call: ‘Who is it?’ Busner snapped. He was lying naked on his bed in the bedroom of the grotty first-floor flat he had recently rented on Fortess Road in Kentish Town above an insurance broker’s. His phone had been balanced on the apex of his sweat-slicked tumulus of a belly, and when it rang it slid down, slaloming expertly through his cleavage, bounced off his clavicle and hit him full in his froggy mouth. Mukti identified himself and explained why he was calling. Busner responded disjointedly: ‘Yes … oh, yes … Yes, I remember you – no, no I’m not. No – I’m not inter- For heaven’s sake, man, I’m retired, I don’t want to examine your patient no matter how novel her symptoms may be … What’s that? Not the first, you say – something of an emerging pattern …?
“It was too late – the older psychiatrist had allowed himself to be hooked, rocking then rolling off the bed he stood with the phone caught in the corner of his mouth. Then the call pulled him into his clothes, out the door, down the stairs (through the wall he heard things like: ‘Third party in Chesham, John?’ and ‘Better try Aviva …’), out the front door, down the road to the tube, down the escalator, through the grimy piping and up another escalator, until he found himself, landed and gasping below a flaking stucco portico beside a billboard picturing computer-generated luxury flats, 1,800 of them.”
Read the rest of Will Self’s brand new short story, iAnna, commissioned by the Guardian to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11, here.