Self & I
ebook ∣ A Memoir of Literary Ambition
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A unique, remarkable and hilarious portrait of one our most talked-about and controversial literary figures. 1994. Matthew De Abaitua, fresh out of university, is being interviewed for a job. The interview involves discussing literature, honking on a special cigarette and shooting at empty whisky bottles with an air rifle. The job in question is that of amanuensis, or live-in personal assistant. The employer is Will Self, the enfant terrible of the literary scene. For the next six months, De Abaitua and Self share a remote cottage in Suffolk, working on their literary ambitions. They are distracted by hikes to Sizewell nuclear power station, opium tea and the allure of Soho. Thanks to Self and his library of bad influences, from JG Ballard to William Burroughs, De Abaitua undergoes a rite of passage that changes him forever. Caught up in vital threads of the early Nineties, from the rise of New Labour to the slow decline of the literary establishment and the emergence of the internet, Self & I is set in a time that burns brightest in its final hour. It is a frank and very funny account of a young, hopeful writer who finds himself alongside one of his heroes only to discover that literary ambition comes at a price. 'If you love Withnail & I, you must read this.' Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller 'I love the perfectly wry balance Matthew De Abaitua achieves between innocence and knowingness, between apprenticeship and ambition. It's a delicious peek into the "Will Self industry" and the vanished publishing world of the Nineties, but it's also a wonderful, highly readable book about love and dedication, and coming of age as a process of learning to be honest with ourselves.' Lauren Elkin, author of Flâneuse Self & I ups the stakes on both U&I and Withnail and I to offer an utterly compelling account of what it means to read, write, live and breathe literature. Anyone interested in the world of letters will devour this book with delight.' Matt Thorne'Very funny but with an undertow of melancholy, Self & I is at root a hymn to the vocation of writing and, as such, sings to all us nearly-writers, wannabe-writers and sometime-writers (i.e. all writers) with the ecstasy of scripture.' Will Ashon, author of Strange Labyrinth