A Fictional Organ with a Surface Anatomy of Four Lobes
By Will Self
(Bloomsbury USA, Hardcover, 9781596916647, 288pp.)
Publication Date: October 27, 2009
Categories: Short Stories (single author)
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British satirist Will Self spins four interconnected stories into a brilliantly insightful commentary on human foibles and resilience.Will Self’s remarkable new stories center on the disease and decay that target the largest of human organs: the liver. Set in locales as toxic as a London drinking club and mundane as a clinic in an ultraorderly Swiss city, the stories distill the hard lives of their subjects whether alcoholic, drug addict, or cancer patient. I n “Fois Humane,” set at the Plantation Club, it’s always a Tuesday afternoon in midwinter, and the shivering denizens of this dusty realm spend their days observing its proprietor as he force-feeds the barman vodkaspiked beer. Joyce Beddoes, protagonist of “Leberknödel,” has terminal liver cancer and is on her way to be euthanized in Zurich when, miraculously, her disease goes into remission. In “Prometheus” a young copywriter at London’s most cutting edge ad agency has his liver nibbled by a griffon thrice daily, but he’s always in the pink the following morning and ready to make that killer pitch. If blood and bile flow through liverish London, the two arteries meet in “Birdy Num Num,” where “career junky” Billy Chobham performs little services for the customers who gather to wait for the Man, while in his blood a virus pullulates. A moving portrayal of egos, appetites and addictions, Liver is an extraordinary achievement.
Will Self is the author of six novels, four collections of short stories, three novellas, and five works of nonfiction. He has written for newspapers and magazines and appeared regularly on television and radio. He lives in London.
"In his latest collection, Self again writes of drug addiction and egos and the destruction of the titular organ.... Each story has a distinctive voice—Self employs linguistic bravado in all." - Library Journal "Wit, furious energy, an idiosyncratic intellect and ornate, often strong language mark this British writer’s darkly offbeat fiction... Brilliant and blistering." - Kirkus Reviews "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." - Sunday Times (UK) "Self writes with more energy than any other living British writer. 'Leberknödel' (liver dumplings), is outstanding...the work of a writer at the peak of his power. Self reveals himself to be a naturalist manqué...in a tradition that runs from Marlowe, Milton and Blake." - Daily Telegraph (UK) "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." - Guardian (UK) "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" - Times Literary Supplement (UK) "As the literary equivalent of Francis Bacon, Will Self continually challenges readers with biological overload... 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" - Independent (UK)