[Reading] ➸ Walking to Hollywood: Memories of Before the Fall By Will Self – Varanus.us

Walking to Hollywood: Memories of Before the FallThis Title Is An Extraordinary Triptych In Which Will Self Burrows Down Through The Intersections Of Time, Place And Psyche To Explore Some Of Our Deepest Fears And Anxieties With His Characteristic Fearlessness And Edgy Humour

[Reading] ➸ Walking to Hollywood: Memories of Before the Fall By Will Self – Varanus.us
  • Paperback
  • 432 pages
  • Walking to Hollywood: Memories of Before the Fall
  • Will Self
  • English
  • 22 October 2017
  • 140880994X

    10 thoughts on “[Reading] ➸ Walking to Hollywood: Memories of Before the Fall By Will Self – Varanus.us


  1. says:

    The notion of inverted worlds is given a bizarre twist with Self s Walking to Hollywood, a novel divided into three sections, with each recounted by a fictionalized Will Self undergoing a different form of neurosis The first section of this triptych while chronologically linked, these three tales are loose enough to be read individually as novellas , Very Little , is the Character Self s 100 page obsessive compulsive breakdown and a continuation of the Author Self s career long obsession with The notion of inverted worlds is given a bizarre twist with Self s Walking to Hollywood, a novel divided into three sections, with each recounted by a fictionalized Will Self undergoing a different form of neurosis The first section of this triptych while chronologically linked, these three tales are loose enough to be read individually as novellas , Very Little , is the Character Self s 100 page obsessive compulsive breakdown and a continuation of the Author Self s career long obsession with scale Self reconnects with a childhood friend, Sherman Oaks, a dwarf who has now become a trendy, international pop artist When they were children, Self betrayed Oaks trust by having a fairly harmless sexual tryst with his sister, and a confused sense of guilt underlies each increasingly frequent and increasingly random encounter Self has with Oaks, as their paths keep crossing while the diminutive artist globe trots in his pursuit to plant colossal constructions of himself in bizarre locations such as the Easter Isles and the Great Salt Lake Desert All the while, Self can barely keep his psyche together as he bumbles from one literary festival to the next, his obsession with the arbitrary nature of dimensions and amounts crippling him in profound ways The titular middle section makes up the meatiest portion of the book, and embarks a psychotic Self on a gonzo quest narrative to find who is responsible for the death of cinema as the main means of artistic expression While Self hounds the mean streets of Lullaby Town, he is beset by a slew of surrealistic adventures, such as fist fighting Daniel Craig, being kidnapped by Scientologists, conspiracies to conceal Tom Cruise s penis size, transforming into a computerized avatar in a 1st person video game shooter, an awkward dinner with Bret Easton Ellis, and escaping a CGI generated riot over Justin Timberlake Luckily, Self has occasional superpowers and allies, such as Scooby Doo, to help him with his dangerous investigation This section is the most impressive of the three, considering its boundless momentum and refusal to let up recounting one insane scenario after another The third section, Spurn Head, is a melancholic slow burner dealing with a final long walk along the Holderness coast as Self s mind slowly deteriorates to Alzheimer s Much of the comic zaniness which propelled the first 2 3rds of this book are abandoned for asubdued, grim attention to ecological disaster and the fleeting nature of memory, culminating with an encounter with an immortal creature borrowed from one of the many isles of Gulliver s Travels. What these three pieces form is a bit too nebulous to give a pat thematic summary, but as baggy as the experience may be, Walking to Hollywood is an often hilarious, horrifying, touching and profound glimpse into the personal and creative life of one of our best living authors, as well as being a caustic look at contemporary culture as an ominous cabinet of curiosities


  2. says:

    Walking to Hollywood is a triptych based around three mental pathologies obsessive compulsive disorder, psychosis, and Alzheimer s Very Little explores Self s permanent obsession with scale Walking to Hollywood finds him investigating who murdered the movies Spurn Head is a bleak walk along a crumbling coastline and a rumination on death.The narrative mixes Self s psychogeography writing with mordant satire, surreal fantasy and personal reflection The book s freewheeling absurdity is Walking to Hollywood is a triptych based around three mental pathologies obsessive compulsive disorder, psychosis, and Alzheimer s Very Little explores Self s permanent obsession with scale Walking to Hollywood finds him investigating who murdered the movies Spurn Head is a bleak walk along a crumbling coastline and a rumination on death.The narrative mixes Self s psychogeography writing with mordant satire, surreal fantasy and personal reflection The book s freewheeling absurdity is gloriously funny and insane, though the last part stretches the form to breaking point, and my interest waned as he sat discoursing cliffside with a Struldbug.Packed with Self s wide vocabulary and unique prose pyrotechnics, this is his most intimate and verbose work yet


  3. says:

    As a fan of Will Self, this novel really 3 bloated short stories is particularly disappointing Each section nominally relates to a psychiatric disorder propped up by a faux memoir style photos in the text, footnotes telling us that this is a clue that this is a faux memoir Walking to Hollywood is Self recycling his recent Psychogeography journalism into a poorly edited set of fictions how much clothing is bespoke, how many skies mackerel, how many times can you write nuages mari As a fan of Will Self, this novel really 3 bloated short stories is particularly disappointing Each section nominally relates to a psychiatric disorder propped up by a faux memoir style photos in the text, footnotes telling us that this is a clue that this is a faux memoir Walking to Hollywood is Self recycling his recent Psychogeography journalism into a poorly edited set of fictions how much clothing is bespoke, how many skies mackerel, how many times can you write nuages maritimes Each has his kind of journalistic style an explicitly stated idea, some local colour often in dialect British as he walks somewhere, and descriptions of him taking a shit Some of these ideas have real potential The eponymous story is a return to Hollywood to discover what killed film as the predominant cultural form our imagination takes The answer, it would seem, is video games apparently he hasn t discovered the internet But the choice to explore this through a kind of PG 13, lamely self conscious rewrite of Bret Easton Ellis s 1998 novel Glamorama is particularly baffling.The problem throughout is that Self spends far too much time explaining what he is trying to do instead of just doing it That an overlong story about amnesia might be symbolically related to the eroding coastline he walks along hardly needs to be repeatedly pointed out And so on.If you are interested in reading Will Self and you should be , do yourself a favour and pick up any other book by him


  4. says:

    I picked this up because it is illustrated, and I m trying to read all contemporary fiction that uses images So my comments here have to do with that I have something to say about the prose at the end.In a book of fiction well, experimental writing that combines journalism with bits of the novel, the memoir, and the travel account the first image is always an unexpected guest Here the first chapter opens with a description of a dew pond not sure what that is, but never mind A single cr I picked this up because it is illustrated, and I m trying to read all contemporary fiction that uses images So my comments here have to do with that I have something to say about the prose at the end.In a book of fiction well, experimental writing that combines journalism with bits of the novel, the memoir, and the travel account the first image is always an unexpected guest Here the first chapter opens with a description of a dew pond not sure what that is, but never mind A single cramped ash was reflected in the gunmetal disc of water, a disc that was ringed with pocked earth and cupped in a fold of cropped turf Seven pages later comes the first image in the book, which is unmistakably that dew pond So it s reasonable to assume that a reasonably interested reader will turn back seven pages to compare the description and it fits A next question might then be why is the image on page 10, given that in the intervening pages the narrator has been remembering other times and places The book opens with Self s friend, an artist supposedly called Sherman Oaks modeled, I think, on a combination of Anthony Gormley and Corban Walker , ranting at the edge of the dew pond In the next few pages, before the first image appears, Self recalls other meetings with Oaks The line on the bottom of page 9, just before the image, is Then, in the late 1980s, there began the inexorable rise of Sherman Oaks, the artist Turning the page, we re brought back to the dew pond and the book s opening but the prose seems not to notice, because it continues with memories of Oaks.I do not propose this as a criticism I mean that this is the kind of calibration that has to accompany any reading that is attentive to images The detail with which the author describes the image and its placement in the text are the rules of a game of word and image that a reader might expect will continue through the book But the next two images, the book s second and third, work entirely differently They are on p 24 that is, a long way into the narrative , and they are snapshots of sheep and of a street stall offering handbags Neither one connects securely to the prose in which they float I can connect them I can guess but clearly these images are being used differently, with less care, as generic markers of places Self has been And so it continues The photos in this book are almost all indifferent, uninteresting, uncomposed, and that s fine it s clearly intentional But it becomes clear that Self s interest in linking his images to his text is uneven, intermittent, uncommitted, disengaged Sometimes the images are referred to in the text, but even then the references in the text rarely make me look at the image forthan a millisecond as I did with the opening photograph Self explains his Barbour jacket at length, making it an emblem of his OCD and his travel anxieties p 34 but when we see it, it s just been thrown into a corner of a toilet stall, and none of the details he describes are visible That photograph p 37 is actually a good exemplar of his idea of images the photo also features his bare knee, because, as the text informs us, he s sitting on the toilet That s actually an interesting thing to be showing readers, but again nothing is made of it.I think the book is non visual, because it just isn t engaged, one way or the other, with its images I can only imagine snapshots are mnemonics for Self, but why does he think readers don t need to be informed about how he thinks about images Is an image such an intractable thing that its uses can t be addressed Or such a non verbal thing that it doesn t need to be integrated into a narrative Or such a self explanatory thing that it doesn t need explanation Or such an uninteresting thing that it can t be dissected And why doesn t it matter that the low grade loneliness of the images contrasts incomprehensibly with the effervescent and fiercely social autobiography A small note about the text I couldn t finish this book Self s style, to me, is a kind of incessant struggle for quirky cleverness Every sentence is tweaked and twisted so it uses English in a slightly striking way For what kind of reader is this entertaining I suppose for a reader who needs a continuous series of faint jolts of interest to remain engaged For me, it s a kind of hypertrophy of the English newspaper habit that requires every headline, even on serious events, to be some sort of clever pun That s always driven me batty What does it accomplish It isn t a satire of world events it s just an unending registering of the journalist s snide wit, which sprays itself over everything from gossip reporting to war On p 44 Self proposes a succinct self criticism as a micro critic it s an affecting moment He has all sorts of interesting qualities, but the volume of wit is turned up too high for me


  5. says:

    Friday evening, it was thought, however erroneously, that a viewing of Sofia Coppola s film Somewhere would be of benefit as I was completing Will Self s fictional memoir Despite the centrality of the Chateau Marmont to both narratives, Coppola s effort appeared by the numbers, numbing and a waste of time for everyone involved Nothing could beremoved from the gripping prowess of Self s triptych.


  6. says:

    Disappointing Very disappointing I have found fiction by Will Self when he is on his game to be reliably intelligent, playful, satiric and entertaining I wish I d found the same here This triptych of a story, a meta fictional travelogue cum quest cum faux memoir, has much of what one looks for from Self It has the fantastic, the magical and outrageous imagery which, when deployed sparingly, are literarily delightful Unfortunately this book is less fantastical than it is confusingly and d Disappointing Very disappointing I have found fiction by Will Self when he is on his game to be reliably intelligent, playful, satiric and entertaining I wish I d found the same here This triptych of a story, a meta fictional travelogue cum quest cum faux memoir, has much of what one looks for from Self It has the fantastic, the magical and outrageous imagery which, when deployed sparingly, are literarily delightful Unfortunately this book is less fantastical than it is confusingly and disjointedly surreal Sadly, Self seems to have become overfond of that most egotistical of post modern tropes metafiction He plays with identity, self identity or rather Self identity in a seemingly endless series of loops which, when assembled from its constituent parts, identifies itself as something akin to a broken Kline bottle In other words this work is too self indulgent by half Does the book have meaning or purpose Assuredly I m not astute enough to winkle significant meaning or purpose out of it but I am supremely confident that generations of earnest Eng Lit post grads will happily engage Self in a monumental circle jerk


  7. says:

    In his new book, a perpetually wayward Will Self investigates all manner of madness the only way he knows how by strapping on his boots and walking to airports Staged as a memoir, we follow the author as he meanders from London to LA to Yorkshire Cliffs Along the way, he gleefully prods at conceptual art, dissects a bloated, self reflexive Hollywood, repeatedly catalogs his compulsive disorders, and peers into the void of his own diminishing mind A fantastical skewering of psychosis and m In his new book, a perpetually wayward Will Self investigates all manner of madness the only way he knows how by strapping on his boots and walking to airports Staged as a memoir, we follow the author as he meanders from London to LA to Yorkshire Cliffs Along the way, he gleefully prods at conceptual art, dissects a bloated, self reflexive Hollywood, repeatedly catalogs his compulsive disorders, and peers into the void of his own diminishing mind A fantastical skewering of psychosis and modern culture, Walking to Hollywood is yet another riotous trip from this mordant and masterful 21st century satirist


  8. says:

    Melting buildings and melting type, a distorted portrait of Self himself looking like eighty million dollars worth of Edvard Munch painting the lurid orange cover of this recent Will Self triptych of feverish fabulations immediately made me think of Hunter S Thompson s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and inevitably of the film adaptation thereof Turns out the cover was in fact actually done by Thompson s longtime favorite collaborator and Will Self s own frequent illustrator Ralph Steadma Melting buildings and melting type, a distorted portrait of Self himself looking like eighty million dollars worth of Edvard Munch painting the lurid orange cover of this recent Will Self triptych of feverish fabulations immediately made me think of Hunter S Thompson s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and inevitably of the film adaptation thereof Turns out the cover was in fact actually done by Thompson s longtime favorite collaborator and Will Self s own frequent illustrator Ralph Steadman, according to the fine print on the back so at least my instincts were good.It seems likely that Self himself did spend quite a lot of time on foot in the city where, famously, nobody walks although I myself used to walk to work and back when I lived there, back in the 1990s Walking to Hollywood, and especially its eponymous middle section, is filled with a delirious wealth of hyperrealistic detail about Los Angeles to whose accuracy I can attest, although I m not sure Self s pedestrian itinerary as a whole would stand up to being mapped out There s a nod to one of my favorite little oddball venues, the Museum of Jurassic Technology There s also an impassioned essay on one of my favorite films, Blade Runner pp.197 198 , that includes accurate details about the Bradbury Building and the nearby Grand Central Market, as well as a neat little aside on p.172 that I couldn t resist quoting elsewhere, when I synchronistically ran across a weblog post about the same thing It reminded me of overtaking a truck with a shiny aluminium tank, all this in 94, on the Santa Ana freeway, with Polly Borland in the passenger seat, filming our reflection in the mirrored belly of the grunting beast with a Super 8 camera see Rob Beschizza s post on bOINGbOING entitled Trompe l oil I could ve been on the freeway right next to him right place, right time.As only befits a book which is, loosely speaking, about one man s epic quest to discover who killed cinema, Walking to Hollywood is also filled with sly Hollywood film references, to the du Maurier adaptation Don t Look Now look for the red raincoat on p.56 and Stanley Kubrick s 2001 A Space Odyssey HAL s unable to find work except as a security camera, p 137 , for a couple of specific examples.However, the three novellas which comprise Walking to Hollywood are also global in scope Even Portland, Oregon gets a nod of sorts, on p.220 It s almost as if the guy were following me around but no, that s just paranoia Right I think Self is one of the most original prose stylists we have working for us these days he doesn t use self consciously literary language, no lofty phrases or obscure vocabularity, just simple words, yet freighted with unusual nuance in nearly every sentence For example On the back of the bathroom door hung a terry towelling robe with a monogram that implied the hotel and I were one p.53 That originality produces occasional brilliance she swansoned from chamber to chamber, p.144 with its echoes of swanned and swan song packed into the overt reference to Gloria Swanson as well as, to be sure, the muchinfrequent misfire such as the realization as if no one could have realized or mentioned it before that Evian spelt backwards is NAIVE p.64 It s a style that tends to make me want to forgive issues like the all too common confusion between ordinance a written rule and ordnance explosives that appears on p.390.There were some other elements of this book that made it less than perfect, at least for me Interspersed throughout the text, muddy and characterless black and white reproductions of color photographs appear, snapshots adding an air of banal authenticity to Self s first person musings The photographs were often disconnected by many pages from the text they were presumably intended to illustrate, though For one example, the image of the shrine I LOVE FREDDY appears on p.339, where the paragraph about it doesn t show up until p.352.The unexplained reappearance of the motos living creatures birthing vehicles, an odd triumph of genetic engineering, as seen in The Book of Dave also confused me a bit, inserted as they were into an otherwise entirely contemporary narrative As with so many works of the surreal, Walking to Hollywood has been labeled as satire, and perhaps even comic, but it is primarily a serious and even angry examination of mental deterioration, the manifestations of mental illness all, as Self s own Afterword explains, displacements of a single phenomenon p.432 It s a work of again to use Self s own words such jocular savagery it can be accepted uncritically as wholesome entertainment p.213 although I would encourage you to look for the depth that s there as well


  9. says:

    psychotically deep, brilliant, fascinating


  10. says:

    The very thing that causes me to enjoy reading Will Self is what put me off in this book his writing is a constant surprise Every book of his I ve read previously, this has been its strength This time, however, even to the last page of Walking I had no idea what was going on.Though it s a continuous narrative, it s divided into three distinct parts Each one follows its own arc and it s revealed most plainly in the authour s afterword each one is devoted to a different mental illness Ve The very thing that causes me to enjoy reading Will Self is what put me off in this book his writing is a constant surprise Every book of his I ve read previously, this has been its strength This time, however, even to the last page of Walking I had no idea what was going on.Though it s a continuous narrative, it s divided into three distinct parts Each one follows its own arc and it s revealed most plainly in the authour s afterword each one is devoted to a different mental illness Very Little, which deals with paranoia through the tale of a dwarf artist and his friend who may or may not be Self was a little confusing and ultimately confounding, feeling like an experiment at our expense An interesting story, sacrificed to style.The eponymous middle part is the longest, approaches psychosis via the authour s or his acting representatives walking tour from London to Hollywood with the necessary flights between , and is the least comprehensible It veers from parody to social commentary to outright lunacy, namedropping and pop culture citing throughout A fun ride, but ultimately dissatisfying, feeling rather like a lesser writer s attempt at Fear And Loathing in Los Angeles.The final section, Spurn Head, addresses Alzheimer s Disease in the most straight forward piece of the book The man we ve been with so far in the book decides to try to make sense of all that s passed by taking another walking tour, this time along the Yorkshire coast As his condition declines, he attempts to piece together what he s doing and where he s come from, as illustrated by Self s wordplay in repetition and replacement.To suggest that I really got this book would be giving myself too much credit It will take some time before I ll want to read this again, but hopefully a re read will berewarding than the initial one

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