BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

24 September 2014
BBC Berkshire banner

BBC Homepage
Junior Football
Message Board
Video Nation
In Pictures
Fun Stuff
Oxford Road
Site Contents 

Contact Us

Thursday 22nd January 2004
Will Self gives a reading in Reading
Will Self
Will Self at Oxfam in Reading

Intellectual writer and dark satirist Will Self popped into Oxfam in Reading to read an extract from his new book, 'Dr Mukti and Other Tales of Woe'.
Read the interview below.


Will Self was born in London in 1961, educated in Finchley and at Oxford University, and cut his teeth producing illustrative cartoons for the New Statesman.

He is a journalist, critic and writer of critically acclaimed novels including The Quantity Theory of Insanity which won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize.

How the Dead Live, a sequel of sorts to The Quantity Theory of Insanity, was shortlisted for the Whitbread Book of the Year in 2000.

His latest book, Dr Mukti and Other Tales of Woe was be published by Bloomsbury in January 2004.

Will Self lives in London.






BBC authors

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.

View a printable version of this page.
Get in contact

Oxfam in Reading was packed out with fans of Will Self, the verbose satirical author and journalist who had come to read from his new book Dr Mukti and Other Tales of Woe - out this month.

Will Self
Will Self

He read one of his dark surrealist tales of woe, Conversations with Ord, and spoke afterwards about his book, Oxfam, celebrity and responded curtly to that heroin moment in John Major's private jet...

So, the story you've just read, Conversations with Ord, is about two friends - one a bankrobber named Keith - who plot to murder a woman by hoisting her up in a red balloon over South London. They also like playing mental Go-Chess and inventing imaginary dialogues with a fictional General in his late 80s called Ord.
How do you come up with these storylines??

"It's not as wacky as it seems. As David Hume once said, there's nothing intrinsically strange about gold, and nothing intrinsically strange about a mountain, but put the two together and you've got a gold mountain. I'm not saying that my story is a gold mountain but it's about putting the two together.

"There was actually a balloon over Vauxhall bridge and I have a friend who is a bank robber. These two elements build up the story. The story is about how malevolent friendships can be and that you can have long-term friendships that can be founded in hatred."

Will Self reading to a packed-out Oxfam in Reading
Will Self reading to a packed-out Oxfam in Reading

There are alot of stories based in London in your new book - why is that?
"It's by osmosis. In the late 80s I tried to get out of London. I was born in London and grew up in London, I came to hate London in the 80s. But being back in London I sort of 'plighted the troth'. Writers can be more or less writers of place and you can hope to extract things from that place that can be universalisable. You write about what you know.

How did you come to be associated with this Oxfam shop in Reading?
Georgia Boon the manager here wrote me a letter and it was a very good letter. You know in life you get letters that say 'we offer you 0% APR' and other letters are significantly better, including those that start off with 'Dear John', but this particular letter made me feel that Georgia was doing interesting things with the shop.
"Of the big charities Oxfam has a very good record in clarity and openness with regard to how money is being spent."

You hit the headlines for snorting heroin on John Major's private jet during the prime minister's election campaign in 1997. Why did you do it?
"That was seven years ago and I really am pretty tired about being asked about it. It's annoying."

Do you recognise yourself in the media?
"It's an exaggeration, a vulgarisation but it's not a complete lie.

"The vast majority of my time is spent picking the kids up from school and sitting alone typing, so how I'm represented in the media isn't foremost in my mind. I don't wake up in the morning and before I put one leg in my pants stop and think 'how am I represented in the media?!'. I don't mean to be blasé but it doesn't really exercise me that much. It's kind of vulgar being remotely well-known, it's like painting your house in day glow and people walk by pointing and saying 'look at that'."

Top | Music Index | Home
Also in this section

Henley Festival 2004
Royal Ascot
Pole-dancing: review

Pole-dancing: preview
In pictures: breakdancing
BananaJam Breakdancing
Reading Gay Pride
Newbury Fringe Festival pix
Reading Carnival 2004
D-Day Anniversary Memories
Windsor Horse Trials

In pictures: Soccer Six
Three Peaks
Gerry Anderson

Berkshire Pigs
Royal Windsor Horse Show
Open Hand Open Space: Closed Door
Paintball Q&A
Dinner for Democracy
Adie Williams and Windsor Warriors
Cheesy vinyl albums
Reading Half Marathon
Farmers markets
Ethiopian Feast
Asian Wedding Show
David Brent at Microsoft
Slough's Johnny Depp
Berkshire's Lookie-likies
Loo of the Year
BBC Berkshire Virtual Tour
Berkshire Web Celebs
Thunderbirds are go
Student nightlife guide
Haunted Berkshire
Faerie heart Circle
Great Thames Read
Fun run for the NSPCC
No Handbags Theatre Company
Paintball match report

The People's War
History index
Corn Exchange bringing in money
Venus visible over Berkshire
Asian Arts Week makeovers

Oxford Road - the story

Real Ale and Jazz fest 2004

What's On

Contact Us
BBC Berkshire
P.O Box 104.4
tel: 0118 946 4200
fax: 0118 946 4555

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy