Sometimes you read books that just weren’t meant for you. This was one of them.
A truly ghastly experience, My Idea of Fun records the memories, justifications and sheer relish of a delusional maniac, serial killer, animal torturer and all around repulsive fellow, couched in prose so purple it’s no longer a part of the visible spectrum. As the protagonist’s predilections are presented on the first page, you can’t say you didn’t know what you were getting into. Against the chidings of my conscience I continued reading, fascinated, much as you can’t not look at a grisly automobile accident as you wheel by on the highway. You can’t help but admire Self’s turn of phrase, his dictionary squeezings, his calculated yet slick deployments of rib-cracking funniness, but you nonetheless wish he weren’t quite so sick.
The book is a compelling enough read. There are a couple flubbed hallucinatory sequences of a William Burroughs variety which I flat out skipped. I frankly didn’t give a damn about our protagonist’s career in advertising or his (possibly meant to be loathsome?) yuppiedom. Self fell asleep on the job more than a few times, misplacing his character’s characteristics, straining and failing to shock, including flat or pointless scenes. Only the scenes in which The Fat Controller played a part were gripping, though inevitably gripping a part of you you’d rather had never been gripped at all. By the end I was just turning pages and feeling icky. That the editors or the author were feeling somewhat insecure about whether or not this book was to be taken as satire is evidenced by the book’s anxious subtitle A Cautionary Tale. Wash yourself thoroughly after reading this one, though that may not suffice. A colonic might be more appropriate. For the very susceptible, an exorcism.
Read other things I’ve written about books. You might find something else of interest!
My Idea of Fun by Will Self. You might just be curious enough to look into it yourself.