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2.9 out of 5 stars
2.9 out of 5 stars
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on 13 March 2011
I must admit that I find the idea of Will Self - the cantankerous man with the deadpan voice, enormous vocabulary and uncompromising left-wing politics - preferable to the literary reality. I'm giving this book just two stars because I found the 215-page central section, "Walking to Hollywood", almost unreadable, and it was a struggle to stick with it to reach the third section.

The first section, "Very Little", about a dwarf friend from childhood who becomes a successful YBA-style visual artist in later life, I found highly entertaining, especially the "divide by ten, multiply by ten" meme. The third section, "Spurn Head", based on a walk along that rapidly eroding stretch of Yorkshire coastline, I also found highly readable, although the weirdly and inconsistently spelled rendition of the local accent was annoying. Both of these sections could be reasonably described as "Sebaldesque", after the mysterious literary style of W. G. Sebald, mixing fact, fiction, geography, fantasy and photographs, although with far more humour than Sebald.

But the middle section, "Walking to Hollywood", rapidly became for me totally confusing, boring, messy and unreadable. It is founded on a false premise, for starters, that cinema is dead, and that Hollywood has killed it - completely untrue, judging by today's cinema audiences and the huge breadth and depth of films being produced, but an interesting "factoid" on which to hang a chunk of novel. Then we find the narrator character, constantly being played by one of two well-known actors, doing a seemingly pointless walk around Los Angeles over the space of a few days, meeting other film folk, themselves being played by other actors, while all kinds of ridiculous things happen and one scene kind of morphs into another. I found it difficult to work out what was actually going on - nothing wrong with that in itself in a literary novel, but in this case I found that I simply didn't care any more and was desperate to get to the end. Despite the welcome recurrences of Dr Zack Busner and his psychiatric techniques, which will be familiar to readers of other Will Self books, I just found it an absolute chore to get through, and it comprises half of the book.

One thing that Dr Busner might like to analyse, incidentally, is Will Self's apparent need to describe almost every instance of going to the toilet - something which most novelists happily omit!
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on 5 October 2010
Melancholic musings on the dissatisfactions of modern life. Parts read like the narrative of a Patrick Keiller or Chris Marker film. Wonderfully written and frequently very funny. A very modern satire that gives new perspective and awareness to everyday things. Highly recommended!
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on 26 April 2013
I'm not being funny with the title of my review. Reading this book is just like mountaineering.

It is a journey into Will Self, and a mind that is both highly articulate yet steeped in problems.

After you spend ages reading material, which feels like an uphill struggle, you are rewarded by views otherwise impossible to reach.

If I'm honest, I nearly gave up a few times and I'm still not sure what I was reading!

The likeness of the cover image to Edvard Munch's "Scream" should indicate where you're heading on this particular read!
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on 8 March 2012
I have to admit I gave up on this book after a couple of chapters just when he inserted a dream sequence quoting `insert a dream lose a reader' lol it probably would have been good if I could have stuck with it...just too clever by half for me. I hate to give up on a book!
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on 29 December 2011
I am a fan of Will Self, and this book is certainly readable. However, I think that it lacks both substance and plot. Hundreds of pages about a depressed obsessive-compulsive, and his egocentric childhood friend, is stretching it a little. It relies too heavily on (unnecessarily?) fancy language to impress. Nowhere near as good as The Book of Dave.
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on 26 November 2012
Why use a long, complicated word when a short one will do? Some people think Will Self is brilliant. I don't! I really don't like his style. I only got a few pages in to this book before I got fed up with reaching for the dictionary . I like to learn new words but he uses too many. It makes me wonder if he is being pompous and trying to impress his readers with his knowledge of complicated words.
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on 2 April 2012
I parted company with Mr Self and his fiction several years ago as I found the constant dictionary referral quite tiring on the arms.However I like his personal style and found his column in the Independent entertaining,but unfortunately the Psychogeography books are beyond my economic means at present,so I plumped for this.
As with some of the other reviewers I found the title section with its abundance of surrealist sidetracking hard going at times,though the other two stories flow a little easier and require less backtracking to find when there's been a scene change or what mode his mind is in.Overall though it was entertaining to sit in on what is at times a celebrity therapy session,although unless you have an IQ over 150 you'll be needing a good dictionary on hand.
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