cover image Cock and Bull: Twin Novellas

Cock and Bull: Twin Novellas

Will Self. Atlantic Monthly Press, $20 (310pp) ISBN 978-0-87113-531-5

Issues of gender identity move from the philosophical to the physical realm in these two racy, startingly inventive novellas of genital anomaly set in contemporary London. ``Cock'' introduces Carol, a dissatisfied housewife who, while coping with her husband's sloppy alcoholism and her own quest for sexual fulfillment, sprouts a penis. ``Bull'' tells of John Bull, a rugby enthusiast and frustrated sportswriter who awakens one morning to find behind his left knee a strange, deep wound that he will soon learn is a vagina. Self ( The Quantity Theory of Insanity ) relates these Kafkaesque fables with an acerbic wit and a narrative mastery that make the absurd seem credible and the commonplace absurd. Indicting all listeners and tellers of stories through ``Cock'' 's vituperative narrator and through ``Bull'' 's mockery of journalism, Self treats his readers alternately to biting satire and to flashes of insight, delivering all in zestfully erudite language. (May)