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My Idea of Fun Paperback – International Edition, May 16, 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (May 16, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679750932
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679750932
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Employing vivid, jarringly unsavory imagery, richly erudite diction and a persuasive, engaging narrative voice, British novella and short-story writer Self ( Cock & Bull ) explores the elusiveness of reality and self-knowledge, the power of formative relationships and the blight of contemporary materialism in his provocative first novel. Part Faustian allegory, part hallucinatory bildungsroman , the book opens with troubled but strangely appealing narrator Ian Wharton, a successful London marketing executive, facing a small predicament. His newly pregnant young bride knows dangerously little of her husband, a psychiatric oddity whose past includes sadistic mutilation and pleasure killing. Should he enlighten her? While grappling with this dilemma, Wharton looks back at his boyhood with an overly affectionate single mother, his years under the guardianship of the malevolent Mr. Broadhurst (a.k.a. The Fat Controller) and his ostensible deprogramming by psychotherapist Dr. Hieronymous Gyggle. Self again proves a master of the grotesque, rendering every image with febrile intensity and positioning them in support of larger philosophical or psychological arguments. An eclectic vocabulary further enriches this ambitious, impressive narrative by a writer already named one of the Best of the Young British Novelists.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Ian Wharton's idea of fun is decapitating and then debauching elderly derelicts on the London tube. Or so says one of his selves in this often repulsive, ultimately fascinating commentary on the duality existent in the human psyche (i.e., as in De Quincey's dreamer, who "finds housed within himself . . . some horrid alien nature") and the seeming insanity of our time, when that alien nature seems too often to be running rampant. Burroughs-like in its hallucinatory approach, this novel also explores the nature of choice and of fate--those outside determinants, personified in Ian's "Fat Controller" (a character from the children's stories of W.V. Awdry), that impose themselves upon our lives. Under the tutelage of his particular mentor, Ian grows to lose all sense of guilt. That he turns to marketing as a profession is no accident either. Marketing is the ultimate influencing mechanism, whether we are talking about products or souls. There is a lot going on here, much of it strange and disturbing. Some will call it genius, others will call it self-indulgent (pun intended). It is certainly not for the faint-hearted. This first novel by one of Britain's rising stars belongs in the serious fiction section of academic and larger public libraries. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/93.
- David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

It is hard to care what happens in a book where the main characters are unsympathetic and poorly sketched.
Amazon Customer
I was really bent on reading the whole ... thing but after 100 and something pages i just realized its not worth of wasting my life on.
Filip Galetic
This book is my W.Self's favorite, because of its complexity, the richness of its characters and again its amazing style.
Priol

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sirin on April 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
My Idea of Fun is an early Will Self novel from the time when he was high on drugs and waved his satirical windmills with abandon against the whole gamut of self-enclosed humanistic metropolitan society.

Essentially, this novel is typical first novel territory - charting the development and maturity of a young man, Ian Wharton, from school, through university, the world of work, relationships and ultimately marriage. But this book is a little different in that Ian is a deeply disturbed individual who plummets the depths of the human psyche - at the start of the book, he announces he is about to go upstairs to disembowl his wife, pregnant with his child. Why? Well that's a complicated tale that requires some 300 pages to unravel. His mental strings have been played mercilessly throughout his life, first by the Churchillian The Fat Controller (definite article very important) who appears at vital junctures in Ian's life, such as when he is about to sleep with a woman, and ruckles the texture of his reality. Then there is the left field psychiatrist Dr Gyglle, who submits Ian to a terrifying series of mind calming experiments. No wonder Ian is messed up, as he pursues his marketing career - that ultimate 90s job, just as corporate law is for the upwardly mobile graduate in the 2000s - and tries to make sense of his self, that mysterious id, that lies within.

Overall, a scatalogical, shock novel that showcases Self's trademark style - each sentence with pistons grinding furiously to add value to the reading experience, words gyrating together like go-go dancers. It is a vigorous, entertaining style, that shakes up the grey area of London, the mundane office blocks and infrastructures in a toxic cocktail of verbiage.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By K on December 14, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Unlike most of the below reviewers, I found this book to be quite engaging. I can't help but think them put off by the horrid nature of the tale. Call me childish and sick, but I liked this well written and quite fantastic story. An unabashed five stars. Also, what's the problem with big words? If you'd rather read at a tenth grade level then go ahead and stick with most any other contemporary writer. I think you'll find that Self's choice of an exotic word over a more mundane possibility often adds to the detailed desciptive quality of his writing. Note that no one has accused him of mis-using his large vocabulary.
This book is not a great work of literature, BTW, but not all books are supposed to be. Some are more for fun, and this one is just not everyone's idea of it apparently.
Disclaimer: I am a big Will Self fan. However, I am not liking his new novel (_How the Dead Live_) very much, so know that I can also be critical of his work.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By jade_nb on June 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
My only prior experience with Will Self was through The Quantity Theory of Insanity, a collection of short stories that defiantly refused to be what I expected of them; whether that's really a good thing or not I have yet to decide, but sampling once his bizarre (and unhealthy) imagination let me know I had to have more, so I immediately picked up a used copy of this book when I saw it on sale.
My Idea of Fun starts off with a gripping opening, continues with a gripping and slightly baffling inner story, and then becomes, frankly, sickening -- but by the end one is so wrapped up in the story that one can't turn away as depravity after depravity comes to light. (I have only read one other book, Iain Banks's The Wasp Factory, that made me feel literally dirty after reading it. While reading this book, I almost choked on the meal I was eating when I came to the protagonist's second visit to the Land of Children's Jokes.) This is a disorienting story, and while I'm tempted to afford it some pat description -- ``a surrealistic romp'' -- that is inaccurate; it is precisely the contradiction between the realistic, drily factual tone in which Self records his story and the ludicrous content of that same story that makes reading it so disorienting.
However, to judge from literary critics, when writing about Will Self, the plot must come second -- no review is complete without the obligatory mention of the prodigious size of his vocabulary. My copy of this book was apparently previously owned by someone who intended using it as a dictionary, because most of the multisyllabic words (and there are a lot, with Self) are underlined.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
It is obvious from the first few pages that the author knows (or believes) that he is far more intelligent than most of his readers. He appears to think that novel writing is beneath him, something that can be tossed off in a few weeks between his witty, sardonic tv performances. This novel is lazy, cold-hearted and dull, while only occasionally allowing clever Mr Self to show off his skilful use of language. It is hard to care what happens in a book where the main characters are unsympathetic and poorly sketched. Half way through the novel (on the busy 8.40 from Peckham Rye to Blackfriars), I was so bored that my mind wandered and I had an idea that I later put into practice with a big positive impact on my life....so thank you Will, you did me a favour. There is one particularly revollting scene where a dog is sexually abused, tortured and killed. As the previous book I'd read (I think it might have been by Irvine Welsh - a vastly superior novelist) had a very similar scene with a dog, it didn't even have shock value. I'm not a dog lover and I have no problem with violence or even sadism in literature, if it is well written, but there are far too many pets being mutilated in the name of British Literature!
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