Saturday, July 08, 2006

A.C.T has just finished reading....


Will Self must have been on drugs when he wrote this brilliantly bizarre collection of short stories. I spent the whole time trying to read this book on the tube with it on my lap or with my hand over the cover so as not to invite strange looks from my fellow commuters.

The cover is taken from a piece of art called Little Death (Castrated) currently at the Tate Modern where a pink dildo, connected to a brain by a white tube, balances precariously on a piece of wood. The book cover has since changed to a more disappointing sober design with a car and a beach. I definitely prefer this one, despite it making for uncomfortable reading.

"Story for Europe", about a two year old toddler from London who speaks only business German, and "Flytopia" about a man that rejects his wife for a group of insects are just a couple of examples of the absurdly hilarious stories in this book.

He goes against all the rules of contemporary writing; his stories are splattered with adverbs, and repetiton. His use of metaphors and imagery are sometimes over the top, but it doesn't matter because it works. He also seems to have a penchant for certain words like 'myriad' and uses different characters called Dave throughout. Absurdly , several of the characters also seem to enjoy lounging around in 'terry-toweling' .

My favourite story is "caring, sharing", set in future New York where adults' emotional needs are met by placid, childlike giants called 'Emotos', although there are not what they seem. The final story "The Nonce Prize", a follow on from the opening story, is a chilling tale about a black crack dealer framed for the murder of a child, the victim of pederasts. The scene where the child is found dismembered, dressed only in a Toy Story T-shirt is both brutal and shocking. If you still have the stomach to carry on reading, the main character's struggle to win a short story prize is moving and at times very funny. The final twist is totally unexpected and will leave you wanting to read more.

8 comments:

Red said...

Gosh, you're a fast reader, aren't you? What do you average... about a book a week? That's pretty impressive. I'm still reading Tutto il Grillo che Conta, which I started while in Italy!

Isn't Will Self the guy who was on one of Vic & Bob's programmes? Or was it Never Mind the Buzzcocks? I've never read anything by him... his face makes me too uncomfortable (talk about judging a book by its cover, eh!).

a.c.t said...

I usually get through a book in about one week and a half to two weeks. I travel quite a bit on the tubes every day and that's when I get all my reading done. That's right, Will Self was on Shooting Stars - you are judging a book by it's cover (great pun by the way)but you're right to as he looks pompous and it comes across in his writing, but in a brilliant way.

* (asterisk) said...

I've never read any Will Self either, but unlike my learnèd spouse I think he has a fun face. Or funny. Whichever. This book sounds interesting, but generally I think I find short stories unfulfilling.

I read fast when I'm travelling. When I'm not, and I'm sat at home all the time, I seldom read. I still haven't got any further on my list of books I'm reading.

I notice you liked The Tesseract. I did too. What did you think of Coma?

Lotus Reads said...

Colour me interested! I like the odd book with the fantastical, bizarre element. Pity about the cover wish they kept the one with the 'Little Death' art -it must have eye-catching to say the very least! Reminds me of the time I was reading "The Sex Lives of Cannibals" a travel memoir set on an island in the South Pacific by J. Maarten Troost. My, were people inquisitive! :)

Thanks for the really nice review - I will have to make a note of this title.

a.c.t said...

* I hardly ever read at home either, so in a way I'm lucky I travel so much. I didn't think much to 'Coma' at all - I thought it was too sureal and sometimes confusing. I was disappointed as I expected something similar to 'The Beach' and 'The Tesseract'. I don't think we'll see another book from Alex Garland for a while.

Lotus, that book sounds interesting, I'll have to add it to my list, thanks. Is it really about the sex lives of cannibals though, or is the title just to get people interested?

Lotus Reads said...

No, no sex - just a sexy title! :) It was a fun travel book though and got some nice reviews.

* (asterisk) said...

Yeah, I loved The Beach at the time; and The Tesseract. But Coma was just not good. Plus it cost the same as a real book and took about an hour to read! What's that all about?!

the cappuccino kid said...

will self on drugs?

noooooo, surely not!

fatfiz signing off now.

keep those scrummy recipies coming please.

i will be visiting from time to time.

take care.