From Publishers Weekly
The travel essays and fantasias in this raucous sequel to Psychogeography
register the psychic impact of place while mapping out the author's idiosyncratic mental terrain. Novelist Self views his surroundings through the lens of his gripes, alternately dire and whimsical, with modernity, embodied by the â€œvertical desertâ€ of Dubai's soulless skyscrapers. He's not overly fond of antiquity, either: during a visit to Jerusalem, the Wailing Wall and the Via Dolorosa strike him, respectively, as â€œa large pile of breeze blocks and a rather smelly alley.â€ (Sometimes his surroundings fight back, as when he's attacked by seagulls in Scotland.) His ramblings sometimes wander into fictional riffs, like an imaginary trip to Bill Gates's house to discuss space-time and an account of â€œThe Great Vomit Wave of '08,â€ during which the world's insupportable debt is physically regurgitated. Self's scabrous, amphetamine prose revels in odd details and twisted associations; for him, every map is a Rorschach blot that brings national sexual perversions leaping to mind. (Steadman's evocative illustrations, which look as if Jackson Pollock had dripped on cartoons by Picasso, provide an appropriately demented visual commentary.) Self is far from a reliable tour guide, but his eye for seldom-trod byways and offbeat insights make him a diverting travel companion. (Jan.)
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In this follow-up to Self and Steadman’s earlier collaboration, Psychogeography (2007), Self offers up another collection of essays, accompanied by Steadman’s unique illustrations. Self, the British novelist and essayist, is known for his unconventional and frequently surreal novels (very much in the mold of J. G. Ballard, one of Self’s literary heroes). Here, in his familiar engaging and idiosyncratic prose style, he writes about a replica Britain off the coast of Dubai; the British fascination with miniatures; his favorite places to walk in the winter; and other subjects that range from the unusual to the downright bizarre. These essays and their illustrations were originally published in the British newspaper The Independent, and it’s amusing to wonder what readers made of Steadman’s brilliant but often unsettling artwork (an illustration accompanying the Dubai essay, for example, renders a series of oceanfront high-rises as a collection of Giger-like skeletal monstrosities). An engaging and completely unusual book. --David Pitt