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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not everyone's idea of fun
Will Self's debut novel is a strange and phantasmagorical tale from the perspective of a man with an eidetic memory, whose very will and imagination can shape and bend the world, whose 'idea of fun' is to inflict physical and sexual violence on other human beings. Growing up under the guidance of the mysterious 'Fat Controller', Ian, the central character, leads a...
Published on 18 July 2004 by L. C. Jones

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for me
I have a lot of respect for Will Self and his views on TV shows such as Question Time (he's also a Professor of modern culture or something)...and I wanted to delve into a bit of not so run-of-the-mill fiction, so thought one of his novels would be perfect. I gave it a shot, I'm not too squeamish (or so I thought. I did enjoy reading Trainspotting for example), but I...
Published 14 months ago by Couttsie


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for me, 4 Feb 2013
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This review is from: My Idea of Fun (Hardcover)
I have a lot of respect for Will Self and his views on TV shows such as Question Time (he's also a Professor of modern culture or something)...and I wanted to delve into a bit of not so run-of-the-mill fiction, so thought one of his novels would be perfect. I gave it a shot, I'm not too squeamish (or so I thought. I did enjoy reading Trainspotting for example), but I just didn't manage past the first few chapters.

Consider me shocked - it may be good literature, so I'm sorry I didn't manage it, but the level of sexual violence,depravity, and quite confusing narrative meant I chucked it out (in the bin, not the charity shop lest some old dear comes across it!) sorry!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm not sure if this is..., 17 July 2011
This review is from: My Idea of Fun (Paperback)
Even the more negative reviews on here seem to be gushing with praise for Self's writing style, but in all honesty, I didn't see it particularly manifest in this book. True, the sheer volume of interesting vocabulary thrown at the reader is in a sense rewarding, but robbed of its magniloquence, the novel is structurally and stylistically fairly pedestrian, especially compared to Self's other writing. All too often, the voice we hear is not so much that of a taboo-defying prodigy, but of a self-consciously intellectual enfant terrible, with philosophers clumsily barging their way through the prose like wrecking balls, and some episodes (such as the infamous dog-mutilation scene) present seemingly in the service of naked provocation.
Of course, 'My Idea Of Fun' has its moments. Mr Broadhurst/The Fat Controller/Samuel Northcliffe is a gruesomely compelling character, something like the devil as imagined by David Lynch, and his relationship with our narrator Ian is a gloriously warped take on master-student dynamics and the trope of the superhero learning to utilise his powers. The first half of the book then, is genuinely enjoyable. Unfortunately, by the second act the abundant mean-spiritedness shows no signs of abating and the novel descends into an uncomfortable blend of sneering misanthropy and nightmarish surrealism, with any philosophical or social point being mired beneath the stifling cynicism of it all (In the end, Self's shocking revelation seems to be that the excessive materialism in modern society robs us of empathy <gasp!>). An impressive, and occasionally very funny exercise in style and taste it may be, but the novel is so detached from any sense of humanity that the reader cannot help but be left with a distinctly unpleasant aftertaste. I'd recommend 'The Book of Dave' instead, which manages to be funnier, cleverer and scarier, and much more more human than this well-written but unsettling little curiosity.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars God the Father, God the Son, and God the cinematographer., 30 Aug 2011
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Idea of Fun (Paperback)
How I hated this, from the beginning to the end, I hated and disdained it. I forced myself to read it, because I had promised a friend who had called it anti-literature and I wanted to understand where he was coming from. It is degrading and horrible, featuring a man in the grip of insanity. Was The Fat Controller (a figure who follows him from childhood in various guises and `teaches' him how to encompass wickedness and obscenity), a manifestation of his insanity? It is notable that we only begin to know Ian as Ian when he starts seeing the psychiatrist, Gyggle.

Having a limitless vocabulary never served a writer worse. I don't want to give the idea that reading this bilge would be of benefit to anyone. I've read some shocking and desperately nasty books in my time, but this one caps the lot. Descriptions of dog torture, random murder and necrophilia. There is no defence for a book which makes you want to throw up. Okay, I understand, writing about something is not the same as doing it, but writing in order to disgust and alienate? What's the point? And this from a TV pundit and critical commentator?
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not everyone's idea of fun, 18 July 2004
By 
L. C. Jones (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: My Idea of Fun (Paperback)
Will Self's debut novel is a strange and phantasmagorical tale from the perspective of a man with an eidetic memory, whose very will and imagination can shape and bend the world, whose 'idea of fun' is to inflict physical and sexual violence on other human beings. Growing up under the guidance of the mysterious 'Fat Controller', Ian, the central character, leads a disturbed (and disturbing) life which stumbles towards self-knowledge. 'My Idea of Fun' is dense with ideas, which are explored with Self's typical wit, irony and incision, and is particularly impressive as a debut. There are those who will dislike the frank and graphic way Self deals with sex and violence, themes that recur in most of his work, and those who will be disappointed by the almost unfinished nature of his plotting, which at times is very bizarre and often quite disturbing. Self unabashedly sets out to shock placid, middle-class sensibilities and 'My Idea' certainly does that. If you can set the shock value aside, there are insights aplenty to be had into the human condition and the nature of our destructive urges (which, apparently only our placid sensibilities hold in check). 'My Idea' will challenge even the most open-minded reader in a variety of ways, and so fulfils one of the basic purposes of art - but whilst it is an easy book to appreciate, it is a difficult book to enjoy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars weird wonderful and utterly perverse...perfect really, 25 Feb 2014
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This review is from: My Idea of Fun (Kindle Edition)
Will self doing what he foes best, taking a seemingly simple but dark tale and twisting it till it bleeds deep thoughts, wisdom and stomach churning violence and humour
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1.0 out of 5 stars Waste of time, 15 Feb 2014
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This review is from: My Idea of Fun (Kindle Edition)
Unbelievingly boring and otherwise disgusting. Repetitive, stupid. Nothing more to say, just adding this coda to comply with the reqirements
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to Imagine a More Darkly Comedic Novel, 5 Feb 2014
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This review is from: My Idea of Fun (Kindle Edition)
As a big fan of the dark comedy genre, it is rare to come across a book as delightfully subverted as this. It takes the reader deep into the mind of a number of hugely troubled individuals (esacpism at its very best). I couldn't recommend Will Self's book enough.

A short read as well that you'll turn through time and time again. One of the very few books that you genuinely get a new pleasure out of every time you read it.

Not to everyone's taste however - The closest title i have read in a similar area is 'Boxer Beetle'. True read-this read-that double billing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars If you like Will Self you will like this, 9 Jan 2014
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This review is from: My Idea of Fun (Paperback)
But if you don't like him you will hate it. I had an argument with a friend of a friend about it - his view was that Self is pompous and likes to show off his knowledge. My view is that he just thinks and therefore writes at a level which requires concentration and doesn't spoon-feed the reader. Not an agreeable read, certainly - the central character is not remotely appealing. But it is a very good book.
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1.0 out of 5 stars I struggled with this book, 15 Nov 2013
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This review is from: My Idea of Fun (Kindle Edition)
I count myself a fan of Will Self, but this was just too much for me. I actually disliked reading it, to the extent that I couldn't really think about the issues it raised. It's basically describing madness from the inside, and does the job so well that the reader is completely disoriented and left with no point of reference. However I could only feel revulsion for the main character, so it didn't give me any insight into the issues it explored.
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1.0 out of 5 stars that's unanimous,then, 12 July 2013
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This review is from: My Idea of Fun (Kindle Edition)
Seems like the majority do not like this book and I am one with them.If I could give it no stars I would.I have read everything from classics to horror and if it is well written cam enjoy .To say it is demanding is vast understatement.I quit very early and am glad I did so.
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My Idea of Fun
My Idea of Fun by Will Self (Paperback - 3 April 2006)
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