Walking to Hollywood

Memories of Before the Fall
Walking to Hollywood: Memories of Before the Fall. Grove. May 2011. c.448p. photogs. ISBN 9780802119728. $24. F
The still funny, still misanthropic Self (Cock & Bull; Great Apes) returns with a fevered smear. This book is a messy three-part satire, with scenes united by Self's wit and harsh judgment. Black-and-white photos pop up unexpectedly throughout the chapters. The narrator is writer Will Self. Part 1 denudes the art world and focuses on a 3'3" British artist acclaimed for creating massive self-portraits. Part 2 has our hero literally walking across Los Angeles (!) looking for the villain who killed the movies. Many strange cameos ensue—a Scientology event, Bret Easton Ellis portrayed by Orson Welles—and our hero might just be a bit part in a film himself. The concluding section returns to England, where he walks along the crumbling cliffs of East Yorkshire. The prose buzzes like simultaneous television, radio, and Internet broadcasts, which may be Self's intent.
VERDICT Self's imagination is undeniable, and the satire is sharp. Voracious fans of Hunter S. Thompson may appreciate this fearless narrative, but this reviewer can't recommend these 400-plus pages to anyone.
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