Walking to Hollywood: Memories of Before the Fall

Walking to Hollywood: Memories of Before the Fall

by Will Self
     
 

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One of the most remarkably inventive voices of his generation, author Will Self delivers a new and stunning work of fiction. In Walking to Hollywood, a British writer named Will Self goes on a quest through L.A. freeways and eroding English cliffs, skewering celebrity as he attempts to solve a crime: who killed the movies.

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Overview

One of the most remarkably inventive voices of his generation, author Will Self delivers a new and stunning work of fiction. In Walking to Hollywood, a British writer named Will Self goes on a quest through L.A. freeways and eroding English cliffs, skewering celebrity as he attempts to solve a crime: who killed the movies.

When Will reconnects with his childhood friend, the world suddenly seems disproportionate. Sherman Oaks, scarcely three feet tall at forty-five, and his ironically sized sculptures—replicas of his body varying from the gargantuan to the miniscule—spark in Will a flurry of obsessive-compulsive thoughts and a nagging desire to experience the world by foot. Ignoring his therapist and nemesis Zack Busner, Self travels to Hollywood on a mission to discover who—or what—killed the movies. Convinced that everyone from his agent, friends, and bums on the street are portrayed by famous actors, Self goes undercover into the dangerous world of celebrity culture. He circumambulates the metropolitan area in hallucinating and wild episodes, eventually arriving on the English cliffs of East Yorkshire where he comes face to face with one of Jonathan Swift’s immortal Struldbruggs. A satirical novel of otherworldly proportion and literary brilliance, Walking to Hollywood is a fantastical and unforgettable trip through the unreality of our culture.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in England and Hollywood, Self's latest (after The Butt) is a rollicking and clever ramble through contemporary culture filtered through a twisted imagination. The protagonist, much like the author, is a neurotic British writer named Will Self who has a penchant for walking everywhere. These outings give him an idea for a project: a walking tour from LAX to Hollywood, during which he will investigate the forces that have diminished film as a relevant art form. Drawing on cinematic tropes and cultural riffs with frequent nods toward the bizarre and the perverse, Self's reveries and encounters include an Incredible Hulk–style street rampage, a rap group laying down Aurelian beats in Latin, and an abduction by Scientologists. Through his mind's camera, Self is alternately played by two lesser-known British actors, and his circumambulation of the L.A. area features an all-star Hollywood cast, with Ellen DeGeneres, Orson Welles, and Robert De Niro all having screen/page time. This gonzo dash through the obstacle course of the mind—encountering paranoia, obsession, and amnesia—paired with a whacky high/low cultural treasure hunt won't be to every reader's taste, but it is assuredly a wild ride punctuated by razor wit and brazen erudition. (May)
Library Journal
The still funny, still misanthropic Self (Cock & Bull; Great Apes) returns with a fevered smear. This book is a messy three-part satire, with scenes united by Self's wit and harsh judgment. Black-and-white photos pop up unexpectedly throughout the chapters. The narrator is writer Will Self. Part 1 denudes the art world and focuses on a 3'3" British artist acclaimed for creating massive self-portraits. Part 2 has our hero literally walking across Los Angeles (!) looking for the villain who killed the movies. Many strange cameos ensue—a Scientology event, Bret Easton Ellis portrayed by Orson Welles—and our hero might just be a bit part in a film himself. The concluding section returns to England, where he walks along the crumbling cliffs of East Yorkshire. The prose buzzes like simultaneous television, radio, and Internet broadcasts, which may be Self's intent. VERDICT Self's imagination is undeniable, and the satire is sharp. Voracious fans of Hunter S. Thompson may appreciate this fearless narrative, but this reviewer can't recommend these 400-plus pages to anyone.—Travis Fristoe, Alachua Cty. Lib. Dist., Gainesville, FL
Kirkus Reviews

In a disturbing fictional memoir mixing hallucinatory travelogue with satire, British writer Self (Liver, 2009, etc.) riffs excessively on friendship, art, cinema, proportion and death while hiking across California and England.

The author's perverse, intellectually acute, darkly playful vision is both a delight and an overload in this latest literary ramble, a sprawling monologue illustrated with grey photos and broken into three parts. "Very Little" introduces Self's childhood friend Sherman Oaks, a dwarf who becomes an artist of international stature, famed for monumental sculptures modeled on his own body. Next comes "Walking to Hollywood," a blur of episodic mania in which a post-therapeutic but still psychotic Self, observing that the movies have died, sets off to track down the killer. Walking to London airport and then from LAX, played by actors Pete Postlethwaite and David Thewlis and filmed by a crew of Jeffs, he meets other figures played by actors and enters cinematic scenarios such as CGI action. The third section, "Spurn Head," a melancholy ode to decay and amnesia, and an homage to W.G Sebald, traces Self's walk along 40 miles of Yorkshire coast famed for its erosion and chosen because it mirrors his own imagined cerebral decline from early-onset Alzheimer's. Despite humor, it's a desolate journey along the edge of things falling apart.

An onslaught of invention, wit, mental-health consideration and caustic, often self-indulgent commentary—exhilarating and exhausting.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802195661
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
05/03/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
464
File size:
4 MB

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