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Phone: Book summary and reviews of Phone by Will Self

Phone by Will Self X
Phone by Will Self
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2018
    624 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Published to rave reviews in the United Kingdom, Phone tells the story of two men: Zack Busner and Jonathan De'Ath.

Busner is a psychiatrist who has made his name through his unorthodox treatment of psychological damage, such as giving the controversial drug L-DOPA to patients ravaged by encephalitis, or administering LSD to World War II PTSD-sufferers. But now Busner's own mind is fraying: Alzheimer's is shredding his memory and his newest possession is a shiny smartphone given to him by his introverted grandson Ben. Meanwhile, Jonathan De'Ath, aka "the Butcher," is an MI6 man who remains a mystery even to those closest to him, be it his washed-up old university lecturer father, his jumbling-bumbling mother, his hippy-dippy brothers, his spooky colleagues or multitudinous lovers. All of De'Ath's acquaintances apply the "Butcher" epithet to him, and perhaps there is only one person who thinks of him with tenderness, a man he keeps top secret, encrypted in the databanks of his steely mind: Colonel Gawain Thomas, husband, father, highly-trained tank commander, and Jonathan De'Ath's long-time lover.

As Busner's mind totters and Jonathan and Gawain's affair teeters, they come to face the interconnectedness of all lives, online and off, while an irritating phone continues to ring… ring… ring…

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. The final installment of Self's trilogy is an invigorating and challenging union of politics, history, and literary finesse." - Booklist

"Starred Review. The narrative reads and feels like an endless data stream, underscoring Self's deliberate attempt to bury the reader in an avalanche of information. A sardonic end to Self's modernist trilogy." - Library Journal

"[T]he hefty stream-of-consciousness conclusion to Self's ambitious trilogy ... Self's densely cerebral prose leaps between narratives, disregarding linear storytelling and paragraph breaks in favor of extended musings that are often intelligent and periodically insightful." - Publishers Weekly

"A multilayered, multivocal, and long-awaited pleasure for the Self-absorbed." - Kirkus

"There are marvels in store ... Self's technique matches high seriousness with, at times, positively childish joking - which is quite in keeping with the dissonance and incongruity that he seeks to restore to his literary account of the psyche." - Times Literary Supplement (UK)

"Self's modernist trilogy concludes with typical panache and wit ... Phone is the final installment in what has shown itself to be one of the most ambitious and important literary projects of the 21st century ... Self's message is a perennially important one, brilliantly expressed: only connect." - Guardian (UK)

"Will Self's Phone will be one of the most significant literary works of our century ... Over and above the intellectual sprezzatura of the work, there is, at its heart, an emotional core, a profound sense of grief." - New Statesman (UK)

"[S]taggeringly ambitious, frighteningly intelligent, ludicrous, and brilliant ... Reading the hundreds of unbroken pages of Phone demands a physical commitment, the literary equivalent of mountaineering. But after all that, the summit brings a kind of elation." - Daily Telegraph (UK)

"[Phone] delivers a hurricane of satire and suspense ... A novel of grand ideas, powered by a ravenous curiosity about the role of the technological revolution in our private and public woes." - Financial Times (UK)

"Looks a forbidding read, but after a few pages it's like slipping into a warm, fragrantly scented bath ... Self's modernist stream-of-consciousness style, a kaleidoscopic tour-de-force of cultural references and wordplay, becomes addictive and compelling. Not to be missed." - Daily Mail (UK)

"[A] great trilogy ... Eccentrically punctuated, with no paragraphs, [Phone] is a series of fast-paced, laugh-out-loud witty, disgusting and frequently well-observed scenes ... In our depressingly middlebrow intellectual climate, it is refreshing that at least one novelist is raising the bar." - London Evening Standard (UK)

"Self seems to have fixed his eyes once again on the far-distant horizon of literary immortality and raised himself to his full and proper height ... You'd have to be pretty bloody-minded and blinkered not to recognise that the books are radically funny raucous romps, understandable and enjoyable by just about anyone and everyone." - Prospect Magazine (UK)

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Author Information

Will Self Author Biography

Will Self is the author of five short-story collections including The Quantity Theory of Insanity (winner of the 1992 Geoffrey Faber award), Grey Area and Tough Tough Toys for Tough Tough Boys; three novellas, including Cock and The Sweet Smell of Psychosis; and several novels, including My Idea of Fun, Great Apes, How the Dead Live (shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel of the Year 2000) and The Book of Dave.

Together with the photographer David Gamble, he produced Perfidious Mana sideways look at contemporary masculinity. He has also published three collections of journalism, Junk Mail, Sore Sites and Feeding Frenzy. He is a regular broadcaster on UK television and radio and as a journalist a contributor to a plethora of publications. He lives in London with his wife, Deborah Orr, and ...

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