My Idea of Fun

( 3 )

Overview

Will Self, the man who the Telegraph claims "could write his way out of a nuclear attack," is surely one of the most original and highly acclaimed writers to appear on the scene in the last decade. From Kafka to Cronenberg, Monty Python to Gore Vidal, the range of seemingly incongruous comparisons that have been made about Self serve as testimony to the literary establishment's grappling with what is a truly unique, wonderfully outrageous vision. My Idea of Fun is his long-awaited, extraordinary first novel. The ...
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My Idea of Fun: A Novel

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Overview

Will Self, the man who the Telegraph claims "could write his way out of a nuclear attack," is surely one of the most original and highly acclaimed writers to appear on the scene in the last decade. From Kafka to Cronenberg, Monty Python to Gore Vidal, the range of seemingly incongruous comparisons that have been made about Self serve as testimony to the literary establishment's grappling with what is a truly unique, wonderfully outrageous vision. My Idea of Fun is his long-awaited, extraordinary first novel. The story of a devilishly clever international financier/marketing wizard and his young apprentice, My Idea of Fun is both a frighteningly dark subterranean exploration of capitalism run rampant and a wickedly sharp, technically acute display of linguistic pyrotechnics that glows with pure white-hot brilliance. Ian Wharton is a very ordinary young man until he is taken under the wing of a gentleman known variously as Mr. Broadhurst, Samuel Northcliff, and finally and conclusively simply as the Fat Controller. Loud-mouthed, impeccably tailored, a fount of bombastic erudition, the Fat Controller initiates Ian into the dark secrets of his arts - of marketing, money, and the human psyche - and takes Ian, and the reader, on a wild voyage around the edges of reality. As we careen into the twenty-first century, Self perfectly captures the zeitgeist of our times: money is the only common language; consumerism, violence, and psychosis (drug-induced and otherwise) prevail; and the human soul has become the ultimate product. The object of frenetic attention in Britain, where it has been both lauded and attacked, My Idea of Fun is, as one critic said, a "novel in sparkling inventive prose, that crackles with hell-fire."

"High-energy, high-caloric prose. . . a wonderfully rich and wicked novel" ( The New York Times Book Review). Will Self's first novel, about a man selling his soul to the devil, is violent, hilarious, outrageous, and, above all, completely original.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Employing vivid, jarringly unsavory imagery, richly erudite diction and a persuasive, engaging narrative voice, British novella and short-story writer Self ( Cock & Bull ) explores the elusiveness of reality and self-knowledge, the power of formative relationships and the blight of contemporary materialism in his provocative first novel. Part Faustian allegory, part hallucinatory bildungsroman , the book opens with troubled but strangely appealing narrator Ian Wharton, a successful London marketing executive, facing a small predicament. His newly pregnant young bride knows dangerously little of her husband, a psychiatric oddity whose past includes sadistic mutilation and pleasure killing. Should he enlighten her? While grappling with this dilemma, Wharton looks back at his boyhood with an overly affectionate single mother, his years under the guardianship of the malevolent Mr. Broadhurst (a.k.a. The Fat Controller) and his ostensible deprogramming by psychotherapist Dr. Hieronymous Gyggle. Self again proves a master of the grotesque, rendering every image with febrile intensity and positioning them in support of larger philosophical or psychological arguments. An eclectic vocabulary further enriches this ambitious, impressive narrative by a writer already named one of the Best of the Young British Novelists. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Ian Wharton's idea of fun is decapitating and then debauching elderly derelicts on the London tube. Or so says one of his selves in this often repulsive, ultimately fascinating commentary on the duality existent in the human psyche (i.e., as in De Quincey's dreamer, who ``finds housed within himself . . . some horrid alien nature'') and the seeming insanity of our time, when that alien nature seems too often to be running rampant. Burroughs-like in its hallucinatory approach, this novel also explores the nature of choice and of fate--those outside determinants, personified in Ian's ``Fat Controller'' (a character from the children's stories of W.V. Awdry), that impose themselves upon our lives. Under the tutelage of his particular mentor, Ian grows to lose all sense of guilt. That he turns to marketing as a profession is no accident either. Marketing is the ultimate influencing mechanism, whether we are talking about products or souls. There is a lot going on here, much of it strange and disturbing. Some will call it genius, others will call it self-indulgent (pun intended). It is certainly not for the faint-hearted. This first novel by one of Britain's rising stars belongs in the serious fiction section of academic and larger public libraries. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/93.-- David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802142139
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/10/2005
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Pages: 309
  • Sales rank: 982,689
  • Product dimensions: 5.48 (w) x 8.22 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2002

    Odd

    One of the strangest books I've read in quite some time. Sometimes I couldn't put it down, at other times I got so sick of reaching for a dictionary that I didn't want to finish it. The story was engaging, but left me feeling that the glass is half empty. Not bad, but not great.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2013

    Share your Idea? here

    Idea!? Reservation.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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