June 26, 2017

The Butt by Will Self

The Butt by Will SelfWill Self won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Writing for The Butt in 2008.

The Butt is the tale of a normal family man Tom Brodzinski who does something accidental on holiday in a far off land (unnamed) that leads all kinds of trouble – legal, cultural and more. Tom gets left in the country by his family and gets somewhat paranoid, resigned to it all, and so forth.

There are some great characters in the story, and fantastic names. The country Tom gets stuck in is imaginary – everyone speaks like they’re from Austrailia, but there’s warring local factions rather like Iraq, and a bizarre culture system that feels a little African, or Pacific Islandy. Plus a civil war going through the middle of the country.

The book works on many levels – a simple amusment, but also rather dark. On reading it I thought it would make a great film – a la The Rum Diaries – but you couldn’t drop the divisions between the whites and the indiginous people so it might be too racist.

The end is quite a twist – maybe a moral twist, but more a dark twist.

An enjoyable read – for now it makes my top 10 of the year.

 

Liver by Will Self

Liver by Will SelfOr give the book it’s full title – “Liver: a fictional organ with a surface anatomy of four lobes”. The book winds through 4 interconnected short stories all of which in some way relate back to Liver.

Foie Humain

The first story is a great read. It revolves around the life of the regulars of one of Soho’s most infamous member’s clubs over a 30 year period. Dark and miserable, but you can see how they are all quite happy in their world. They are very much an parallel universe all of their own – who get one over on the normals when they go to the opening night of The Extra’s latest play, but who otherwise seem to just want to be at the club – the Plantation.
But there’s a major twist at the end – which really does come from far off to right field!

Leberknodel

The longest of the four stories, and split into separate chapters. It’s an intriguing story of ex-NHS administrator, Joyce, who has decided to take the last plane to Zurich in order to avoid the horrors of her terminal liver cancer. The story explores (in a very un-controversial way) the feelings of those who agree with assisted suicide and those who don’t. More interestingly it also delves into the politics of the Catholic Faith and the world of …. can’t say that as it will damage one of the twists for you.

For me the most enjoyable part is learning how the different people in the story cope with Joyce’s decision. And more importantly how they cope with her sheer determination and focus to do what is right for her, and only for her.

The 3rd story is a story about an advertising executive called Prometheus. Like Prometheus all the characters are named after Greek gods. The one thing I’m longing to discuss in this review, but can’t because it’ll destroy part of the story, is the part concerning liver. Put it this way – it’ll weird you out, confuse your and possibly make you feel a little ill.

Quite an intriguing story as it mixes real life things from the London ad world (name checking agencies such as Dare and Glue), yet in many ways it is an extremely out-of-this-world story. Again the story ties back to the Plantation Club in the first story. And reading this one it seems the stories are in chonological order.

Birdy Num Num

The final tale is told by a virus “we are legion” (somehow reading that I couldn’t get Red Dwarf out of my head!). And focuses on the activity in a druggy flat in London. More of a who-got-it than a who-done-it, it’s quite a different type of tale from the others and the one I found it the hardest to get into.

That’s possibly because it’s told alongside the parallel world one of the druggies lives in which is a film from the 70s starting Peter Sellers.

Kinda reminded me of Irvine Welsh’s Marabou Stork Nightmares

Top 10 Books I most want for Christmas 2010

As Christmas bears down on us, and now Super Thursday is out of the way I thought I’d put together a little list of the 10 books I’d most like to find under the tree this Xmas.

This list is comprised of the books I haven’t yet read by my favourite authors, and also a few curve balls!

Generation A by Douglas Coupland
JPod by Douglas Coupland
I’ve read most of his works, and as yet I’ve not come across one I didn’t enjoy on multiple levels – easy to read, and un-put-downable, yet also pretty deep and intelligent.

The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis
I love Martin Amis’ books. In fact London Fields is my no 1 favourite book (must give it a re-read in 2011), so his latest offering is definitely on the current wish list.

Tell-All by Chuck Palahniuk
Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk
He writes such wonderful stories, and always an awesome take on modern society. These are his latest two, and I feel rather embarrassed I haven’t read either of them yet.

Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis
I’ve read pathetically little of B.E.E. Just American Psycho (which is even better than the film), and Less Than Zero. Glamorama seems like the obvious next step.

Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban
I forget who recommended this one to me – but I keep forgetting to buy it!

Morvern Callar by Alan Warner
Another author I’ve read scarily little of. This one has been on the list for YEARS! Definitely time to get it done.

The Beautiful and Damned by F Scott Fitzgerald
I’ve read most of his books – yet this one evades me!

Psychogeography by Will Self
I’ve read several of his novels but not enough of his other writing.

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
SO much written about this one I feel I should find out what all the fuss is about.