Will Self has established himself as one of the most brilliant, daring, and inventive writers of his generation. My Idea of Fun is Will Self’s highly acclaimed first novel. The story of a devilishly clever international financier/marketing wizard and his young apprentice, My Idea of Fun is both a frighteningly dark subterranean exploration of capitalism run rampant and a wickedly sharp, technically acute display of linguistic pyrotechnics that glows with pure white-hot brilliance. Ian Wharton is a very ordinary young man until he is taken under the wing of a gentleman known variously as Mr. Broadhurst, Samuel Northcliff, and finally and simply the Fat Controller. Loudmouthed, impeccably tailored, and a fount of bombastic erudition, the Fat Controller initiates Ian into the dark secrets of his arts -- of marketing, money, and the human psyche -- and takes Ian, and the reader, on a wild voyage around the edges of reality. As we careen into the twenty-first century, Self perfectly captures the zeitgeist of our times: money is the only common language; consumerism, violence, and psychosis (drug-induced and otherwise) prevail; and the human soul has become the ultimate product.
Employing vivid, jarringly unsavory imagery, richly erudite diction and a persuasive, engaging narrative voice, British novella and short-story writer Self ( Cock & Bull ) explores the elusiveness of reality and self-knowledge, the power of formative relationships and the blight of contemporary materialism in his provocative first novel. Part Faustian allegory, part hallucinatory bildungsroman , the book opens with troubled but strangely appealing narrator Ian Wharton, a successful London marketing executive, facing a small predicament. His newly pregnant young bride knows dangerously little of her husband, a psychiatric oddity whose past includes sadistic mutilation and pleasure killing. Should he enlighten her? While grappling with this dilemma, Wharton looks back at his boyhood with an overly affectionate single mother, his years under the guardianship of the malevolent Mr. Broadhurst (a.k.a. The Fat Controller) and his ostensible deprogramming by psychotherapist Dr. Hieronymous Gyggle. Self again proves a master of the grotesque, rendering every image with febrile intensity and positioning them in support of larger philosophical or psychological arguments. An eclectic vocabulary further enriches this ambitious, impressive narrative by a writer already named one of the Best of the Young British Novelists.