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Body Parts

British writer Will Self may seem to have odd preoccupations, but so what?

Book Cover Will Self continues his preoccupation with anatomical titles—his last book was entitled The Butt, an early work was Cock & Bull—with Liver: A Fictional Organ with a Surface Anatomy of Four Lobes (Bloomsbury). This tome contains four stories interconnected by the state of the various characters’ livers; a London barkeep, a woman with terminal liver cancer which suddenly goes into remission, an advertising agency hotshot, and a junkie provide the canvas for Self’s seemingly limitless imagination and keen intelligence.

For readers who may not have availed themselves of Will Self’s oeuvre, Geoff Nicholson wraps it up in a tidy package:
We might argue about whether Self is a satirist, but to the extent that all satire requires an object of attack, here he seems above all to be attacking palliatives. The kinds of self-medication that help many of us get through—booze, drugs, sex, religion, art—won’t make things any better in the end, he suggests, and in some cases will destroy us.

All this may make Self sound like a godless nihilist, but I think he’s only the first. The refusal to believe in easy solutions is a long way from believing in nothing at all. Like all satirists, he’s also a moralist.
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