Though best known for his gritty fiction, novelist Will Self has a busy sideline in his native England as a journalist. He pens the occasional interview and review, and can whip up an opinion of virtually anything under the sun. Junk Mail
collects a decade of his pieces. The book makes enjoyable reading ' it's like a magazine made up entirely of articles that are well-written, with topics ranging from Martin Amis to the drug policies of Amsterdam to the latest album by Oasis. A superior mimic with a yen for the underbelly of life, Self writes best when he is getting behind the scenes, shall we say. 'New Crack Cityâ?� takes readers on a scamper through some notable London crack dens, circa 1991, while a press junket trip to an ice hotel in Scandinavia gives the reader a peek into how leisure pages are spoon-fed stories. An essay on William S. Burroughs' Junky
reveals how that pseudonymously published book held the key to the late writer's work. Self may have the vocabulary of a Victorian lord, but he's an egalitarian at heart. It seems he'll take any assignment under the sun; interviews with cryogenics believers abut profiles of Andrea Dworkin and Bret Easton Ellis. Self also knows his readers don't have a lot of time, so these pieces are full of bang-for-buck writing: clever turns of phrases and interesting conceits that always, always punt you down to the last line.