cover image Psycho Too

Psycho Too

Will Self, . . Bloomsbury, $35 (255pp) ISBN 978-1-60819-022-5

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 “vertical desert” 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 “a large pile of breeze blocks and a rather smelly alley.” (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 “The Great Vomit Wave of '08,” 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.)