'The Quiddity of Will Self' by Sam Mills
Publication date 15th March 2012

Skilled, confident and brave; Sam Mills writes in worship of an existing cult author, exploring the extremities of worship, love of literature and the twisted trails within the mind left by the textual footsteps of every author one reads. Each book a glimpse within the psyche of another, the taunting desperation of wondering if you could have that mind, be that person, find those ideas, those words within yourself. ‘The Quiddity of Will Self’ pushes that notion to the extreme. Could one actually become Will Self? Recreate oneself in his image, inhabit him posthumously or digest his quiddity? Through the characters’ stories we see the consequences of such an obsession.

Identity, insanity, orgies, mystery, murder, loss, deception, ghosts, hermaphroditism it’s all in here and yet it doesn’t feel overcrowded as a novel. Its denseness works and the creative ideas drive the story well. This is literature of grand proportions and I’m not surprised it is the work of nine years!

The sense of reality interwoven with fiction adds an extra curiosity to the novel. Within the book the WSC (the cloaked, masked cult of writers who worship Self) is a blur of hedonistic orgies, drugs and dangerous games. Yet the WSC also exists as a real organisation off the page and is equally mysterious judging by its website (www.thewillselfclub.co.uk), though one hopes it to be less macabre than the book version. Art mirrors life, life mirrors art - but how true are the reflections? You may find you continue to try and unravel this mystery beyond the end of the novel. Certainly for me, investigative research beckons and once again life mirrors art as I’m reminded of the character Mia…

‘The Quiddity of Will Self’ isn’t a book to devour in one sitting (I fear it may explode your mind), it is a book to take your time with, to break from, ponder and digest its ideas.

I was not previously familiar with Will Self’s work (dare I admit this?) but I did not find that it interfered with my enjoyment of ‘The Quiddity of Will Self’. I am now tempted by the lure of his many novels and his sesquipedalianism* and perhaps may one day find myself a cloaked member of the WSC…

*Yes, I am impressed with myself for managing to use a Selfian word within this review and I’m equally hopeful that I’ve used it correctly!