Matt Thorne

Anatomy of Four Lobes

Liver

By

Viking 288pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

Although I’ve reviewed most major British and American literary novelists over the last ten years, until now I’ve always steered clear of writing about Will Self. This is largely because the temptation to trash him stems from an initial admiration: as a teenager I wolfed down The Quantity Theory of Insanity and Cock and Bull, and even went to see him read (when I rarely went to see writers read) from My Idea of Fun. But halfway through reading my inscribed copy back at home, I suddenly realised that, like many others, what I most admired about Self was the pose, not the prose. Self (like William Burroughs, a writer he admires) is perfect for adolescence, but as soon as you pass twenty, it’s impossible to read him. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,
    • 'The heroic male nude could not, I think, be used today to signify civic pride and glory', as Michelangelo’s 'David… ,
    • 'Munch’s later works show us a man liberated from the torments that gave rise to some of the best-known early works… ,