This is a collection of Self's journalism from what can only be described as his 'drug' period. This doesn't affect in the slightest the sharpness of his observations and the wit laced with intellect with which he conyeys his ideas. There are books reviews, articles on visits to crack dens, english prisons, essays (on everything from cryonicists, satanic cults, the state of english culture...) as well as amusing tales of pub conversation on the Orkney Isles and flying 1st class on Virgin Airways...At the back of the book are fascinating conversations between Self and other greats of modern fiction such as Martin Amis and JG Ballard, fascinating that is, if you can keep up with the fluency and ease they discuss ideas on literature etc...The only thing Junk Mail has over his other collection of mainstream journalism Feeding Frenzy, is that the articles are less clipped and the depth of Self's thought is allowed to roam in an less restrained manner. Hilarious, engaging, perceptive and sometimes irreverant - this comes highly recommended.
I admire Will Self. I sometimes imagine that, had I immersed myself in literature and drugs rather than science, I would now be able to write like he does. I suspect a lot of other people feel the same way, but the fact is none of us can, and never really even stood a chance. While not necessarily Self's best book (I prefer his fiction), it's probably the best vehicle for his intellect. He uses his broad vocabulary with spare, erudite precision - the result is easy and relaxing to read. He tackles controversial and emotionally-fraught topics - the result is thought-provoking, humane and sensible, while also being humourous and unconventional.
Self's usual exasperatingly large and well used vocabulary always makes me want to write, and this book was no exception. The subject matter is varied, from his fascination with William Burroughs, opiates and motorways to interviews with Damien Hurst and Martin Amis. Is this format of "resell what has already been sold" cheeky? Probably. But as compulsive as ever.
Some quite brilliant articles interviews and journalistic musings from one of the sharpest wits working in Britain today. The longer sections are quite interesting, particularly the one on Northern Ireland which is a good snap-shot of the situation just before the 1st IRA ceasefire. The one on 'Recovered abuse memories' is a fascinating dive into the twighlight Zone of bastardised freudianism. Its all good really.
A very disappointing rag bag of articles. If you're expecting any insights, bon mots or omnilingual punning, forget it. This is aimed squarely at readers of the Evening Standard who think that they're walking on the wild side