Willby Will Self
From “Britain’s reigning poet of the night” (Boston Globe), a long-awaited memoir of the artist as a young addict
Will Self is one of Britain’s best-known contemporary writers, a public intellectual whose novels have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize and translated into over twenty languages. In Will, his first ever memoir, he turns his attention fully to his own self, and in particular his addictions as a young man. An addiction memoir like no other, Will echoes the best of Self’s psychedelic fiction, and is one of the most eloquent depictions of the allure of hard drugs ever written.
Will spins the reader from Self’s childhood in a North London suburb to his mind-expanding education at Oxford, to a Burroughsian trip to Morocco, an outback vision in Australia, and, finally, a surreal turn in rehab. Self uses drugs from a young age, hiding acid, amphetamine, and weed in a tin of Dilly Duckling cough pastilles. His university years are fueled with books but also with “heroin, hashish, cocaine, grass and amphetamine.” Self smokes dope in suburbia, buys opium in India, and even injects methamphetamine on a camping trip in Wales’s Black Mountains. And his extreme highs inevitably give way to deep lows, an enthralling cycle that persists and repeats. One of the best minds of our generation, whose mordant humor and vivid images shine in this technicolor portrait of family, art, and self-expression, Self has written in Will both a kunstlerroman and confessional, a tale of excess and degradation, a karmic cycle that leads back to the author’s own lack of . . . will.
“Will looks back to Self’s adolescence and early 20s, when he was strung out on smack, and presents himself as a wheedling, whining bully who treated his friends, family and lovers with that junkie’s inversion of the categorical imperative: seeing others only as a means of achieving his next fix . . . Recalls the great wave of drug memoirs that came in the 1990s, and particularly Ann Marlow’s superb, genre-bending How to Stop Time: Heroin from A to Z . . . The book is a joy to read, with the final part in particular recalling David Foster Wallace at his best . . .There’s more than mere nostalgic pleasure in this gleefully self-lacerating memoir of drug abuse and rehab.”—Guardian
“One of Britain’s most inspired writers employs his novelist style to a chronicle of his addictions . . . A third-person, no-holds-barred tale of [Self’s] fascinating life . . . His readers won’t be surprised by this heady stew of J.G. Ballard, Hunter S. Thompson, and Philip K. Dick . . . The prose is consistently spectacular . . . A tale of addiction and consequences by the singular Self earns its shock and awe.”—Kirkus Reviews
“[Self’s] memoir finds recovery in the form of friendships and the miracle that he somehow found the resolve to survive.”—Booklist
“Will Self may not be the last modernist at work but at the moment he’s the most fascinating of the tradition’s torch bearers.”—New York
“Self is the most daring and delightful novelist of his generation, a writer whose formidable intellect is mercilessly targeted on the limits of the cerebral as a means of understanding. Yes, he makes you think, but he also insists that you feel.”—Guardian
“Mr. Self often enough writes with such vividness it’s as if he is the first person to see anything at all.”—New York Times
“Self writes in a high-modernist, hallucinatory, stream-of-consciousness style, leaping between sentences, time periods, and perspectives . . . The reward is a strange, vivid book.”—New Yorker
“Self’s prose demands real attention, but is never less than sharp, biting and incisive. Prepare to be eaten whole.”—Independent
“Like the work of the great high modernists from the 1920s, like Joyce, Woolf and Eliot, there is a kind of chaotic beauty in Self’s unrestricted writing . . . You’ll be simultaneously entertained, mesmerized, intellectually stimulated, baffled—and laugh your ass off.”—NPR
“Will Self’s Phone will be one of the most significant literary works of our century . . . Over and above the intellectual sprezzatura of the work, there is, at its heart, an emotional core, a profound sense of grief.”—New Statesman
“[Phone] delivers a hurricane of satire and suspense . . . A novel of grand ideas, powered by a ravenous curiosity about the role of the technological revolution in our private and public woes . . . William S. Burroughs, meet John le Carré.”—Financial Times
“Self has indeed been a goat among the sheep of contemporary English fiction, a puckish trickster self-consciously at odds with its middle-class politeness . . . Writers, too, as Self so wonderfully proves, can awaken the half-dead and reanimate that which has been sunk in oblivion.”—New York Review of Books