Will Self - The Butt
- Hannah Adcock
- 27 March 2008
Will Self’s latest novel is an allegorical tale of cause and consequence, which probes the addictions of the ‘liberal West’. Tom Brodzinski thoughtlessly flips his last butt onto Reggie Lincoln’s head, setting off a chain of quite unbelievable events in which Tom, the ‘righter of wrongs’, becomes the butt of the joke. Not that it’s much of a joke. Set in a distorted country, part-Iraq (oh yes) and part-lots of other places, Self’s novel is a dystopian fantasy which showcases his intellect.
The idea of tontine policies, a sadistic form of life insurance, is quite brilliant but the plot loses steam in the second half, possibly because agenda, no matter how sophisticated, interferes with fiction’s dynamism; it may be metaphorically apt for Tom to be one of life’s inert personalities, but it also makes him rather dull. The Butt may not be addictive, but it provides a satisfying rush all the same.