Liver: And Other Stories Paperback – 4 Jun 2009
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'Peculiar, subtle, affecting and humane... It is a vertiginous, swooping vision that can lay London out like a body... It is all tremendous fun, and sometimes much more than that. Self has always had a blunt brilliance... These stories are busy with stylistic experiment, high-concept in-jokes, verbal impasto and flights of fancy which test the limits of narrative' - Justine Jordan, Guardian 'These tales are highly chthonic' - Nicholas Blincoe, Daily Telegraph 'This is what Self does best: snap-shots of decline and high-concept satires of the 'slapstick of addiction" - Ed King, Daily Telegraph 'Will Self is rightly admired for the sheer energy of his writing, his pyrotechnic wit and wordplay, and his willingness to experiment with genre and narrative... He is undoubtedly one of contemporary literature's showmen' - Peter Parker, Sunday Times 'All of Self's hallmarks are in place here: a prose style that scuds from the slangy to the hypertrophic and back; a keen sense of place; a sharp satirist's eye coldly cast on fashionable London; and a fondness for what might be called the High Concept' - Keith Miller, Times Literary Supplement '...satire so vicious it makes Charlie Brooker look restrained' - John O'Connell, Time Out '...no one can revel in the disease and decay of humanity like Will Self' - Ben East, Metro "Leberknodel" is the best fictional writing on Zurich since Kim Stanley Robinson's story named after the city' - Nicholas Royle, Independent 'As the literary equivalent of Francis Bacon, Will Self continually challenges readers with biological overload... Stepping into Self's world is like opening one of the Wellcome Institute's cabinets of medical curiosities... What counts most throughout is Self's enthralling, muscular and sometimes even joyous use of language. His writing propels one of the greatest arguments for freedom of speech that I can think of; you may not like his subject matter but his obsidian brilliance is incontrovertible, shocking and humane' - Christopher Fowler, Independent
Classic Self...This is what Self does best: snap-shots of decline and high-concept satires of the 'slapstick of addiction'. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
"Liver", subtitled 'a fictional organ with a surface anatomy of four lobes' comprises 4 short stories, loosely held together by the idea of the organ and what it means to us as humans. Of course, this being Will Self, this has a lot to do with spiralling addiction, the abasement of the soul and the dirty underbelly of London.
The first story, "Foie Humain", concerns itself with the revolting, alcoholic inhabitants of the Plantation Club, a private members club in Soho of the eighties. They bicker, abuse each other, abuse new comers and gradually drink themselves to death. This is what Will Self does best- the characters are as close to parody as you can get without becoming farce, but they are a gleefully drawn bunch of grotesques. The story is worth reading for their names alone, 'Her Ladyship', 'The Extra', 'His Nibs' and 'The Martian' and it is laugh out loud funny in parts.
The second, "Leberknodel", is a surprisingly sensitive and thoughtful piece about a terminally ill cancer patient on her way to Switzerland to commit assisted suicide. I had the pleasure of hearing Will Self read an extract from this at a literary festival, so when reading it I could hear every word in his rich and distinctive voice.
The third is a straight retelling of the "Prometheus" myth set in the world of advertising, which is effective, if a little obvious.Read more ›
3 of the stories focus on the familiar Selfland of media London. 'Foie Humain' is set in the Plantation Club (a roman a clef on the notorious Colony room, now shut down) whose denizens perpetuate a filthy gavage like the geese farmers of the Dordogne on their hapless barman.
Prometheus is a modern retelling of the Prometheus myth set in the glib, drug fuelled London advertising scene. Prometheus is a wildly successful copywriter, who can breathe fire into the most sodden of products, but he is chained to the porcelain rock of his toilet while a vulture feeds on his liver every day, followed by regeneration. A nice trope to define much of modern London media life.
Drugs feature in the final story, Birdy Num Num, told from the viewpoint of the hepatitis C virus, another interesting exercise in Self probing new fictional angles but the result is like some of his earlier fictional ideas from his drug phase - an interesting conceit that is underworked in the execution.
Leberknodel (Liver Dumplings) is a novella length story that leaves London and instead treads the less worn fictional terrain of Zurich. Joyce is a retired hospital administrator with cancer who travels to Switzerland with her daughter. Regretting her lack of appreciation of the small trivial things in life, she turns down the lethal dose, and miraculously finds that her cancer has gone into submission.Read more ›
Even more bitter than usual (yes, it was evidently possible) Self's latest collection is a fierce exercise in abjection, riffing off references left, right and centre; but one that runs amok only to do itself harm, as each story whittles itself down to an all too familiar core of nothingness. Yes, Self's bottomless intellect is on fine form, matched depth for depth by his deep, dark humour, but Liver rings hollow to me; all style over content, pomp but little circumstance, once the chiming riffs have echoed past.
The first of Liver's quartet, Foie Humaine, lays out some truly killer lines, and it's thinly veiled pastiche of Francis Bacon's Colony Rooms reminded me at times of Dorian; but never really becomes a genuine story, pulling itself up too sharp on a device that felt tacked on and clumsy.
At the other end of the collection, Birdy Num Num - a drug tale to match Foie Humaine's alcoholic gloom - has its moments, but, again, struggles, becoming too crowded out by its own ideas, and ends up quite trying.
Credit where it's due, Birdy is a brilliant distillation of drug mania, with, as ever, some truly gorgeous lines, but its another tale that feels far too indulgent; an exercise that, for want of some decent editing, ends up serving only itself.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I bought this item as a gift. I ordered a book and received a book so I'm content. Thank youPublished on 3 Jan. 2014 by Chris Payne
I normally love Will Self but I actually couldn't finish this. The characters just aren't likeable and the short stories are quite long for Self so there's less variety and if you... Read morePublished on 30 Nov. 2011 by ANV
I'm surprised that only 2 people have already reviewed this book & that it has such a low rating - frankly it deserves more. Read morePublished on 3 Nov. 2011 by The Gadger
I really like Will Self work on TV and newspaper, but this book really got me tired! I found it really hard to enjoy the reading as it goes on and on forever and nothing really... Read morePublished on 11 Feb. 2010 by LD Paludetto