Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Self-will of Will Self

by Drew Martin
Americans have a lot of self-will but not enough Will Self. He's one of these writers and cultural figures who has quite a presence in the U.K. but hardly anyone knows of him "here" in the U.S. Interestingly, his mom is from Queens, New York so Will is an American citizen as well, which gives him a bigger territory to write about with the advantage of connection. I first became fascinated by him many years ago when I read about how he would fly into the airport of a major city, such as JFK of New York, and then walk to the center of that city, i.e. Times Square. He talked about the physical boundaries and rings of a city as he worked his way into the heart of that culture, passing graveyards and major roads void of people. I identified a lot with Will but I never read much by him until I picked up his Junk Mail last week for $1 in the back clearance section of Barnes and Noble in Paramus, New Jersey. I am reading it now, and will make a post about it when I finish. What I wanted to share at this point is a lecture I just watched by him. It was my first time seeing/hearing him and I found him more interesting than I expected. I guess with his junkie past I was expecting someone a bit more jaded but he is clear, smart, and insightful during this fascinating talk about Isolation, Solitude, Loneliness and the Composition of Long-Form Fiction in which he contemplates the need of isolation to write and read literature while at the same time questioning if we perhaps fetishize solitude and might be better off in a world without privacy.