cover image Junk Mail

Junk Mail

Will Self, . . Grove/Black Cat, $13 (308pp) ISBN 978-0-8021-7023-1

This uneven catchall for a decade's worth of previously published critiques, interviews and essays by British novelist Self (The Quantity Theory of Insanity ) roams from "ultimate rock chick" Marianne Faithfull to avant-garde artist Tracey Emin, who draws herself masturbating, to his "hero" Oscar Wilde, whose London statue has been repeatedly vandalized. Self is at his cantankerously witty best when pondering his own sexual ambivalence and his parents' open marriage as he interviews a transsexual law professor who sued unsuccessfully for parental rights, tours the London drug scene, discusses Americans' "strange way of thinking" with J.G. Ballard or realizes, on a visit to Israel, that he is a Jewish anti-Semite. Less successful is a dated interview with the late radical feminist Andrea Dworkin, who laments her "invisibility" on the American political scene as opposed to her popularity in Europe and calls President Clinton a rapist. Also past their sell-by dates are a churlish, envious review of Nick Hornby's bestselling novel High Fidelity and an interview with Martin Amis that retreads the novelist's fearless support of Salman Rushdie, the breakup of his marriage and his rivalry with Julian Barnes. And conspicuously absent from this literary grab bag is a preface that ties the varied pieces together into a coherent whole. (June)