Daily Bookshot: Will’s a Psycho Too



Will’s a Psycho Too, originally uploaded by Robert Burdock.

Psychogeography, as defined by Guy Dubord in 1955 as being "the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.", is something I’ve a real interest in. More simply it’s about the affect of place on person; the awareness of one’s surroundings, and more often than not it’s in relation to the urban landscape, rather than anything rural.

Will Self, the enigmatic British novelist who always writes as though he’s eaten a dictionary for breakfast, is also a big fan of Psychogeography, so much so that up until about a year ago, he wrote a weekly column of the same name for the Independent newspaper.

I followed Self’s column religiously at the time (you can still catch up with some of it HERE ), because he thrilled me massively with the accounts of his bipedal wanderings, coupled with his acute observations. And one of the best essays I’ve ever read – covering any subject – is the one that Self penned in describing his walk from London to Manhattan. It’s an incredible piece of writing from Self (you can read the whole essay HERE if you wish (and I urge you to do so)), and it’s indicative of the high quality of writing that he employed for all of the pieces he wrote for his Psychogeography column, which has now, as I said before, sadly come to an end.

Self’s ‘march to Manhattan’ piece is actually an extended essay created for a published collection of his Psychogeography features, which was published by Bloombury in 2007, under the ‘imaginative’ title of Psychogeography [ISBN: 9780747590330]. That volume, which also includes the sublime artwork of Ralph Steadman, the artist who accompanied Self’s original column pieces with illustrations, holds an important space on my library shelves, and a few weeks ago it was joined by a partner, the follow-up volume, the one you see here, entitled Psycho Too [ISBN: 9781408802281], which was published by Bloomsbury in November 2009 .

Psycho Too is as beautiful as the first volume. It’s again lavishly augmented with the artwork of Steadman, and it is also fronted by an extended essay – this one entitled ‘Walking the World’ which pays homage to J G Ballard.

I’ve yet to read ‘Walking the World’, or indeed any of the other 52 included pieces included in this volume, I do however recognise many of them, as having read them when originally published. So I’m really looking forward to a day when I have the house to myself, just so I can dive back in to the wonderful world of Self’s vision of the world.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books)

Comments

  1. Stujallen (Twitter: stujallen)
    says:

    looks great ,the marriage of steadmans drawings and selfs razor wit is perfect ,huge fan of selfs novels and short storys

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      I’m not really a fan of his novels myself Stu, but his Psychogeography essays are ‘top drawer’ 🙂
      Warmest
      Rob

  2. Thanks for the link to Self’s essay, Rob. A true entertainment.
    And, indeed, what a vocabulary!

    I was a little disappointed by the part on NYC, especially the way he disliked Prospect Park. It’s a very fine place.

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      My pleasure Nick. I’m really, really glad you enjoyed it (extensive vocabulary and all :)). As for Self not liking Prospect Park too much, well he was either tired and had sore feet by then, or it wasn’t diverse enough for him (he had after all just walked through East New York and Crown Heights:))
      Warmest
      Rob