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on 6 March 2005
I sincerely hope that Will Self doesn't become one of those "urban chic" autors, niched into a corner where only pseudo-intellectuals, beatniks and non-conformist liberals will bother to seek out, while the rest of the UK just remember him as the 'gaunt weird one' who filled Mark Lamarr's seat on "Shooting Stars".
Will Self is indeed a fine writer of high calibre, with a rich extensive vocabulary, and prose that can paint vivid pictures of the pomp and squalor of the urban environment and human condition all in the breadth of a single paragraph. Simultaneously reverential and scatalogical regardless of his subject matter.
Dr. Mukti and other tales of woe offer a collection of humorous and disturbing tales, simultaneously eccentric and eclectic as well as vulgar, yet always beautifully crafted (as is the prose). "Dr. Mukti" serves up a wide variety of subjects, in bite-size chunks, with a rich and dark sense of humour and a twisted but yet lucid and very real perception through the eyes of his characters.
An excellent introduction to a very verbose and far-reaching author who does not flinch at anything, but who, at times can be also a little confusing, but certainly a recommended read to anyone who would like something a little more cerebral in their novels. Newcomers to Mr. Self will be stunned that the guy who outweirded Vic and Bob can display such savage intelligence, and readers well-versed in Self's books will appreciate the return of such characters as Dr. Zack Busner. and more ascerbic observations on every aspect of human mentality.
Miss out on Will Self, and you're missing out on something very unique amongst the bookshelves.
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on 23 February 2006
The title story, taking up half the book, is Self at his deadpan best - a tale of spiralling absurdity with a conclusion so simple and devoid of morality it stops you in your tracks. No contemporary writer gets to the heart of life's meaningless like Self. The rest of the book however is a so-so affair: "Walks with Ord", a story that has been published as an exclusive twice in the Independent on Sunday - which his wife edits - is particularly boring and pointless. "Dr Mukti" shows that Self still has the twisted genius that led to "Grey Area" and "Great Apes", but the rest of the book left me thinking that he just isn't trying hard enough.
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on 7 March 2011
Will Self
Dr Mukti and Other Tales of Woe

From the start the reader realises that Dr Mukti, a consultant psychiatrist specialising in schizophrenia is as nutty as a fruitcake. And very soon one becomes aware that Mukti's efforts to understand his ridiculous patients, his own inner workings and the absurd world he lives in are doomed to failure. Nevertheless, Shiva Mukti persists heroically in trying to explain the inexplicable. He cannot help others, but can he help himself? This is the comic world of Chaplin and Reggie Perrin, where we identify with the little man caught up in a vast mechanical cosmos, but here with no prospect of escape. It is terrifying, nightmarish and recognisable as essentially the human condition. Surrounded by banality, man yet aspires to spirituality, to something beyond, something that seems, for a time, to make sense.

Shiva Mukti, a second generation immigrant from Uttar Pradesh is an ambitious man. He bears the name of a god and he would like to become a god. But that takes a long time, many generations, indeed countless eons. He lives in a suburban house in North London, crowded with ancient gummy relatives who live on balled rice and television. They are mostly silent, but if roused can jabber nonsensically. His only refuge is work, which although a complete farce, is a temporary escape from madness or suicide. But Mukti is not only schizoid, but paranoid. Recovering from a session of psychiatric treatment he decides to go back to work, but `at once, the thought of the Bakerloo Line to Oxford Circus, then the Central Line to Tottenham Court Road , became frighteningly alien. The journey would be interminable, the brute power of the metropolis would be scored into every electric-blue check of the tube carriage's seats.' Shiva recalls his father Dulip's instructions to him, when they would `flee in order to get near one another,' travelling with his father's staff pass on `sleepy off-peak overground trains muttering over the rails to Berkhamsted, Chertsey and Amersham; Green Line buses tunnelling through the deep-cut lanes of the Kentish Weald.'

What Dr Mukti cannot flee from, however, is the real, and at times imagined persecution by a rival practitioner, Dr Zack Busner, a Machiavellian Jew who constantly refers awkward patients to him for a second opinion. Of course Mukti retaliates in this Battle of the Barmy Psychiatrists, each jealous of his position in the hierarchy and stopping at nothing to dethrone his rival. The fantasy ending to the story of Dr Mukti's woes, must of course remain under wraps, but it can be revealed that it culminates in a blood bath at a squatters den in one of the finer houses overlooking Regent's Park.

As black comedy Dr Mukti and Other Tales of Woe takes a lot of beating. With its wild and hyperbolic language and its bizarre plot this is a hilarious moral tale, grounded in gritty realism.
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VINE VOICEon 10 June 2004
I'm almost embarassed to admit it but my introduction to Will Self was the BBC's Grumpy Old Men series. In the interview(s) with Will I was captivated by his use of language and ability to express an opinion with force, humour and clarity. Here, finally, I had discovered an educated, articulate, challenging and passionate personality that captivated me with every sentence.
So, to Waterstones I hurried (sorry Amazon - I am a big customer of yours but nothing beats actually picking up a book, buying it and then reading it in store with a coffee). Dr Mukti reinforced my impression of Will. The dialogue is fantastic, there are messages throughout, true reflections of culture and society and, for me at least, an education. And when it comes to this last point I am elated. Finally, here is someone who seems to have no hesitation in expressing a view with no spin. The British media (inc. Newspaper, radio, TV) worries me intensely. I feel a victim to news management. In Will Self there is perhaps a chink of daylight through which reality can be observed.
Hanging on his every word (his back catalogue on order),
Julian.
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on 19 October 2007
This is one of Self's best realised works of fiction. While in many of his other works of fiction the plots and characterisation can be seen as promising, interesting but ultimately could have been developed more. This collection of stories is spot on.

The effect is that Self's ideas are fully realised in the midst of an elegant writing style. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone with a bad experience of reading Self or those infuriated at his ideas not being fully realised.
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on 15 January 2004
This is a new, brilliant book by that genious, will self. his books, espcially this one, is a fantastic mix of grotesque, surreal characters and realistic, yet alien situations. his mix of the league of gentlemen, and chris morris is brilliant!
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on 28 January 2006
does Will Self ever have anything to say, really? he always harps on about texts being 'Existentialist', but if the truth be known, i don't think he understands what existentialism is. every essay or book i have read of his is longwinded, pretentious, overly smug, and i never feel that he makes a point. its frustrating reading Self, and not in a good way- not in a way which would imply negativity (needed for renewal). i find myself bored by him and his works.
he introduces Marianne Faithful's latest album, and in my mind it ruins it, and i hate that everytime i listen to the album, i am reminded of him.
perhaps i am wrong, and i would am willing to accept that i am, but what conclusions does he ever make? none! my advice would be to read William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac etc- the original and authentic voices of 20th century alienation.
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