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The Butt: A Novel Paperback – October 27, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (October 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596916389
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596916388
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,868,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. From Self, the British master of the satirical fantasy, comes a loquacious and inventive farce about the demise of civilization. Tom Brodzinski, relaxing on vacation in the postcolonial Feltham Islands, sets off a string of unfortunate events when he flicks a cigarette butt off his hotel balcony. It lands on the scalp of tourist Reginald Lincoln III. Reggie's happy to laugh it off, but things slide from bad to worse when Reggie is hospitalized and Tom is charged with assault with a projectile weapon with a toxic payload. After a chaotic trial, Tom is ordered to pay a restitution of two good hunting riffles, a set coking pots and $10,000. The catch is that the restitution needs to take place in the tribal heartland. This launches Tom and Brian Prentice, another foreign transgressor (Tom suspects pedophilia), on an expedition of Conradian proportions during which Tom is tormented by Brian's rotten, cloacal physicality. Self (The Book of Dave; How the Dead Live; etc.) confirms his reputation for pulling off cleverly modeled literary experiments. This one is at times exhausting, but if you can stick with him, Self successfully presents an ironic and timely metaphor for our post-9/11 Bigger Brother world. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Horribly compelling…The Butt is a hideously engaged, overwritten, barking masterpiece.”—Independent

“An accomplished satirist…Polysyllabically perverse.”—New York Times Book Review

“Though Self’s landscape is his own invention, Brodzinski’s odyssey parallels the Coalition of the Willing’s misadventures in Iraq and bears a strong resemblance to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness…[The] shocking conclusion amounts to a scathing indictment.”—Los Angeles Times

“An allegorical satire…Brilliantly chilling, damning.”—Observer (UK )

“The British master of the satirical fantasy…Self successfully presents an ironic and timely metaphor for our post-9/11 Bigger Brother world.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Customer Reviews

2.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Sirin on June 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Will Self is a writer totally committed, like his idol, J.G. Ballard, to contemporary Western culture. Not for him the elegant, self-enclosed humanistic world of novels where rounded characters play out a parlour game morality tale, with a clear resolution at the end.

Self, quite rightly, prefers his fiction to cut a little looser than that. For nearly 20 years he has been holding a satirical mirror to contemporary British life, and forcing his readers to look again at what their lives, their very selves, actually consist of. (Sadly, the people who really need to do this most don't tend to read this type of book, but what can you do).

Away from the Grey Area of London, the Butt takes place in a completely fictional country, part Australia, part Iraq, part neo-Conradian heart of darkness. It is billed by its publisher as an allegory of the post September 11 Liberal conscience - but this is not a satire as you might expect, contemning the imperialist foreign policy of the Bush/Blair axis. Well it is. But not quite. And it certainly is strange.

Self has said in interviews promoting this book that he feels in contemporary British cultural and political life, you are at liberty to say pretty much anything, and nothing gets listened to. To make an impact, you need to start from first principles. So he creates a protagonist, Tom Brodzinsky (clearly American, though never explicitly stated) who carelessly hurls his cigarette butt off the balcony where he is vacationing with his family. It lands on the head of Reggie Lincoln and scars him. Reggie takes this amiably enough, but the problem is he's married to a Tayswengo woman, and this indigenous people's don't believe in accidents.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By wbjonesjr1 on December 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
I sort of slogged through this book somehow, but it is really a tough book to like. Reviewers calling it "experimental" literature have got it at least partly right. The premise is pretty bizarre (to say the very least) and the setting, plot etc outlandish, with the interesting exception of the main character, Tom (at least in the beginning of the book). None of this makes it easy for a "conventional reader" looking for a good yarn with a literary spin.

I am sure Self does not write for the "conventional reader" like me. I would have given the book 4 stars for inventiveness, if only Self had given me the relief of an upbeat ending, or even an ending where he solves some of the main puzzles he drops through the book, particularly those regarding Tom and his family. But he denies me even that, and it is clearly by design. Yet despite all this or perhaps in light of, I look forward to reading something a bit more accessible by Self in recognition of his extraordinary literary talent
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nikiwiki on February 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well, I have to say I did read through to the end and found the story really really "different". I found my one word summation after the ending to be 'ridiculous". Also, wow, what an imagination this guy has. Although I am glad I exposed myself to his writing, I would hesitate to purchase another of his novels.
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By J. Walkington on October 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've read other Will Self books but I could barely finish this one. I'd read the Book of Dave instead.
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