Friday, October 27, 2006


Reading Will in the traffic jam

Many years ago a friend of mine sent me a video tape (that long ago, yes) of a british bbc programme (or was it channel 4?) about book stuff where this lady interviewed a couple of authors in each episode. The reason he sent me this tape all the way from London was because one of these episodes featured an interview with salman rushdie, and he (my friend) knew that I love his (salman rushdie) writings. But - as I slowly began to realize in years to come – salman in person (or tape, or interviews) didn’t come out as a person that I can say I like to make friend with. He seemed a bit stand offish, snobbish, well aware that he is a good author, has written good books…in short big headed. But I was totally fascinated by another author interviewed in the same programme which I’ve never heard before. He had an arresting look. A lanky laconic person all in black with strong features that looked like Dracula and he acted like one. His remarks were ironic, sardonic and almost derisive and a mite insulting to the interviewer and salman rushdie, …at least that was how I remembered it. He was will self.

This was the time before I had internet so I couldn’t google him but I kept his name at the back of my mind and over the years I began to collect his books and writings and now I have a fairly representative of his ouvres – tough tough toys for tough tough boys (short stories collection -1998), Feeding frenzy (collections of his essays and opinion pieces from various papers on all sorts of topics- book reviews, interviews, food columns etc), My idea of fun (fiction) Great apes (fiction) and how the dead lives (fiction).

Admittedly, I’ve yet to read any of his fictions from cover to cover (not because of anything to do with lack of quality or merit but the usual bane of other books intruding and demanded to be read too) and so I only managed to read completely from beginning to end a few short stories and some bits and pieces in ‘Feeding Frenzy’.

I was traveling from kota bharu to tanah merah today to visit some relatives as I usually do on the third day of hari raya but the traffic was jam packed bumper to bumper and half expecting this, i brought along ‘feeding frenzy’ and lucky that I did so as I managed to cool my temper by listening to rai music of khalid, cheb mami etc and reading bits of ‘feeding frenzy’ in the traffic snarl and in fact finished several essays before the traffic finally eased up . will self is one of those writers that love to insult you by throwing all those hard words in your face . He reminded me of martin amis’ writings but more anarchistic . Not surprising this as he was known to have a deep respect for mr amis and his early influence included hunter h Thompson and william burroughs to name just two.

he thinks nothing of insulting and belittling any icons and established names. His rubbishing of restaurants make for a good read and gets all those restaurateurs all riled up I’m sure. I read one article in the jam today about Quentin tarantino’s movie ‘jackie brown’ which I loved but he rubbished mr tarrantino as though he is an idiot. And a somewhat unexpected but come to think of it not surprisingly , in a review of lewis carrol biography he strongly felt that he (lewis carrol) was “ indisputably a paedophile - but not an active one”. Based on the fact that lewis carrol loved to take pictures of prepubescent girls –naked- I think he’s right. Now I need to reevaluate my favorite books alice in wonderland and through the looking glass in this new light.

The blurb of my paperback of ‘feeding frenzy’ said that he earned the tag “the jack the ripper of english prose’ and whatever the hell that means , I agree with it. And I love it. He’s a bit intimidating and he’s the kind of guy I wouldn’t even trust to bring my grand mother home at night but all the same, his writings are frenzied and euphoric. I love them.

hello gb

saya mau angpow. saya kiyut.
will think of something...i wonder what will self will give eh? i'll be back in kl monday...
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