Will Self

Will Self’s new novel is Phone.

‘Many​ dentists,’ my mother once portentously remarked, ‘are thwarted sculptors.’ No doubt she herself had experienced their creative frustration – and painfully so. She was wearing a full set of dentures before I was born but never told me exactly when she’d acquired them. Perhaps she’d been presented with a pair (and some sort of voucher for the...

Ive​ never been voluntarily committed, or sectioned, either to an asylum or a locked psychiatric ward, but I’ve visited a fair few in my life: it goes with the odd profession of drug addiction – as do weeks and months closeted in rehabilitation centres and private clinics. My regular visits to the locked ward at the Royal Free Hospital in London, when I was still in my teens,...

Diary: Cocaine

Will Self, 5 November 2015

When​ I began taking cocaine in the late 1970s a gram cost between £60 and £80. The sixty-quid stuff was flogged by patchouli-smelling proto-goths in black Lycra who wormed about in the ’burbs. It was a dusty concoction of mannitol (a sugar alcohol with many therapeutic uses, including relieving constipated babies), procaine (cocaine’s anaesthetising but non-euphoric...

After working​ on his film adaptation of William Burroughs’s Naked Lunch (1991), David Cronenberg apotheosised both the writer and himself by claiming his screenwriting and Burroughs’s literary style had synergised. Cronenberg apparently mused that were Burroughs to die he might write his next novel. Burroughs expired in 1997, and although Cronenberg has directed many films...

Diary: My Typewriters

Will Self, 5 March 2015

When​ I was a child I perved over my mother’s typewriters; first, her beautiful olive green Olivetti Lettera 22 with American keys, then later her IBM golf-ball electric which seemed to explode into kinesis if you touched it. I picked up an ancient Underwood of my own in a junk shop and used it to hammer out comedic plays. By the time I wanted to write less childish things, my mother...

Wizard Contrivances: Will Self

Jon Day, 27 September 2012

‘I have forgotten my umbrella,’ Nietzsche wrote in the margins of an unpublished manuscript. Whether he wanted to remind himself of the phrase, which he put in inverted commas, or of...

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Out of Puff: Will Self

Sam Thompson, 19 June 2008

A civilised man travels into the wilderness, and is bewildered. You might call this the Heart of Darkness narrative paradigm. Mr Kurtz is fearsomely civilised, ‘an emissary of pity, and...

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According to Hannibal Hamlin, in Psalm Culture and Early Modern English Literature (2004), English versions and translations of the Book of Psalms, the original book of Dave – supposedly...

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Bottoms Again

Jerry Fodor, 19 June 1997

Archimedes thought that he could move the world if only he could get outside of it, and the same idea inspires writers in the transcendental genre of fiction. Find some place sufficiently far out...

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Reluctant Psychopath

Colin MacCabe, 7 October 1993

The photograph of the author on the jacket is warning enough. He is dressed all in black, poised as though ready to pounce; his eyes fix you through a cloud of smoke. The cigarette, which is...

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Nouvelle Vague

Anthony Quinn, 7 January 1993

Readers making their way through Michael Bracewell’s latest novel may gradually become aware of a small but persistent ache: it comes of the author nudging them in the ribs. There is no...

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