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Grey Area (Will Self) Paperback – February 6, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The latest collection of short stories by Will Self explores a world so saturated with sensory stimulation its inhabitants are immune to it. In the minds of his characters, vastly complicated interior worlds and conspiracies are formed as protection against the monotony and emptiness of life. In the title story, a stenographer works for a company whose policy is to consume its own products, leading to the spiritual consumption of everyone who works for it. For Self's characters, reality is a virtual reality, imagined into existence as relief from the vapidity of themselves. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Once again bringing piercing wit and narrative virtuosity to the short-story form, Self (The Quantity Theory of Insanity) lays into contemporary England. The title story in this sophisticated collection depicts the drab, unchanging world of a corporate office worker and yet seduces readers with precisely described details and perceived nuances of her static daily routine. "InclusionR" exposes a cover-up of a disaster in the covert pharmaceutical testing of a new anti-depressant drug used ritualistically by bee-worshipping rain-forest tribesmen. And "Chest," perhaps the best of the lot, skewers British manners and social stratification, as a carcinogenic fog blankets England, forcing country squires to rely on radar and scuba gear to hunt their pheasant while coughing, wheezing victims swap painkillers and respiratory remedies across class boundaries. Self inlays subtle connections among all nine stories and repeatedly delves into themes of egotism, neurosis, charlatanism and conformity, and he does it all in crisp, economical prose enriched with the evocative diction of a confirmed logophile.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Will Self
  • Paperback: 287 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; 1st Atlantic Monthly Press Pbk. Ed edition (February 6, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871136732
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871136732
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,897,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 11, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Self is one of the most talented British contemporary writers and enjoys this celebrity for good reason. He writes Grey Area in an overwhelmingly cryptic tone saturated with insight in both human nature and the nature of our own surroundings in a surreal world. His observations are scientific anthropological jewels, while his writing mechanics are those of an artist. Grey Area is a book I'd recommend to not only the fan of British literature, short story format, or imaginative writing, but to the most hard - nosed non - reader
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sirin on May 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
'Grey area', Will Self's second collection of short stories follow in the same tradition as his first - 'The Quantity Theory of Insanity'. Self seems to conjour up bizarre conceits, then writes them out. Overall the quality of the stories is strong, if a little mixed. Most of the stories are set around London and the M40 corridor to Oxford, the motorway acting as a surreal form of creative lodestone which exerts its influence over the stories within.

My favourites were 'Chest' a satire set in a futuristic Oxfordshire where ingrained class distinctions stubbornly prevail even though a thick, toxic fog blankets the landscape so country squires have to breathe through oxygen masks while they shoot pheasants; 'Scale' which riffs through all the myriad definitions of 'scale' in the dictionary through the eyes of a motorway worshipping morphine addict who dwells in Beaconsfield model village (hard to see how this one could translate into other languages) and 'The End of the Relationship', about a girl who is dumped by her boyfriend and subsequently finds that everyone she encounters that day is also suffering from a breakup.
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4 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Darren Higgins on August 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
"Grey Area" is more impressive in scope and scabs than in realization. The linguistic sciolism (vituperative of me to say), the skittery plotlines, the curvy roads, the meaty chunks, flesh against my teeth, yes yes, miasma well-placed, and fluid-filled lungs remind me; "Inclusion" includes a tying of loose ends, and "The End of the Relationship" so entirely different - its (seeming) placidity rents it from the guttural slavering and pedestrian contempts of the rest. The cruelty here is even more pronounced due to its nuance and understated enunciation. There are throughout brilliant moments, but the stories often left me feeling circumspect - as though i had witnessed and was almost taken in by some elaborate legerdemain. There is an air of flippancy that detracts from the disturbing characterizations and dim, dystopian landscapes. The chthonic sturm und drang unravels a heavy damp sweater only to leave us with a string between forefinger and thumb. And still, worth the read: for the intestinal aspirations, for the restive mind at work.
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