The Undivided Self

Selected Stories
The Undivided Self: Selected Stories. Bloomsbury Pr., dist. by Macmillan. Nov. 2010. c.480p. ISBN 9781596912977. $28. F
Spanning several earlier books (and including some recent uncollected stories), this collection provides the perfect introduction to the gamut of Self's darkly comic, verbally dexterous shorter prose. The works range from the Vonnegut-like "Caring, Sharing," set in a future where childlike "grownups" have robotic doppelgängers that cater to their physical comfort while taking on all of the deeper emotional aspects of their lives, to the satiric "Understanding the Ur-Bororo," about an anthropologist's studies of a remote Brazilian tribe whose distinguishing trait is their dullness (indeed, the tribe's name translates as "The People Who You Wouldn't Want To Be Cornered by at a Party"). "Tough, Tough Toys for Tough, Tough Boys" showcases Self's more serious side, as a middle-aged psychiatrist reflects on his past during a car trip to the Orkney Islands.
VERDICT Turning outrageously apt metaphors as few others can, Self could build a career on wit alone. As this outstanding collection amply shows, however, he delivers much more. Especially recommended for readers new to Self's work and libraries that don't own the collections from which these stories are taken.
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