Title: The Butt
Author: Will Self
Page Count/Review Word Count: 357
I’m not sure how to categorise Self, as a writer – I guess I’d say that his work is subversive, but in a good way. In The Butt, we follow the story of a guy called Tom Brodzinski, when he decides to quit smoking in a foreign land and, in a moment of recklessness, he flicks the butt of his cigarette from the balcony of his holiday apartment.
Unfortunately, it lands in somebody’s hair, which causes a lawsuit. We then follow what happens to Tom in the aftermath of this. Interestingly, Self never really explains where his story is actually set – the country is never given a name, and it takes on attributes of myriad other countries to form a sort of nightmarish whole.
Self’s work is always interesting, and this book is no exception – it’s a sort of twisted take on the world that we live in, written by a cynic with an unusual imagination. The writing is clear and easy to follow, even if the story itself is sometimes a little quirky, but it never feels like a chore to read it. That doesn’t mean it’s for everyone, though – you’re far more likely to enjoy this if you like to read stuff that’s a little more experimental or alternative.
One thing that I will say is that Self’s characterisation isn’t at its best here – I’ve seen better in some of his other books. In many ways, though, that doesn’t seem to matter – it just seems to highlight the story itself, which is no bad thing.
Overall, I would recommend The Butt, but only if you like to experiment with the sort of stuff that you read – if you usually stick to a single genre then this isn’t for you, because it uses elements of almost any genre that you can think of. I’d also be interested to know what other people think of it – it’s the type of book that can polarise readers, so that some people will love it and some will hate it. Sound good?