In much the same way as he turns his back on his starting point on one of his infamous ‘psychogeographic’ walks, Will Self revealed that his latest novel will leave behind the worlds of metaphor and simile, instead focusing on describing things exactly as they are. Though, with his inimitable turn of phrase and his thesaurus-threatening vocabulary, it will be interesting to see if he manages to resist the urge.
However he decides to write, Self is bound to entertain, evidenced by the reading of a fantastical and caustic passage from Walking To Hollywood, his genre-defying trio of fictionalised memoir-like travelogues. Articulating the feelings we all experience when faced by rudeness and a lack of decorum, the writing didn’t so much jump off the page as execute a flying kick to the head: the self-effacing mockery balancing the vitriolic bile of the frustration in a visual and visceral piece of prose.
Self then went on to answer questions about the evils of television and how his appearances on the box have a disproportionate impact on the public’s perception of him; and their expectation that they can walk up to him and strike up conversation. More seriously, he discussed how the amplified Self in Walking To Hollywood reflected his true character; and explained how he answered criticism that he was becoming as much of a celebrity as those he parodies in the book.
With an effortlessly louche wit and a dry humour that leaves no sacred cows untipped, an hour of Self is always a pleasure; and often an education. And although the reading and subsequent discussion may not have shed much new light on things, learning that he is once again turning his healthy disrespect to another topic – with or without metaphors – is good news indeed.