Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Lunchtime read: tough, tough toys for tough, tough boys

Discussing things at a meeting this morning I mentioned in passing to someone that I was reading Will Self. "Doesn't he annoy you?" was the question I was asked and maybe after just two stories it is unfair to comment. But to a certain degree he does. The language can be aggressive and the stories dark.

Anything to do with insects gets compared to the great Kafka and this at least does not go down a route of having a character transform. Instead John becomes able to communicate with the insects that have previously been making his hot summer life hell. He starts to enjoy a life in Flytopia, where he can co-exist with the insects. The punch comes at the end though as his partner returns and heads for the spare room, which has become a maggot breeding ground on rotten meat. As she walks in she is engulfed by the insects that had been half-heartedly promised more meat by John.

Reading this reminds me of the experience of reading Irvine Welsh in that here is an author confident in his own ability but keen to set out to shock. The world he creates and invites the reader into are dark, unpleasant and capable of leaving a disturbing imprint on the mind. That can be both good and depending on your mood unwelcome.

More tomorrow...

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