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The Butt

3.05  ·  Rating Details ·  733 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews
When Tom Brodzinksi flicks his last cigarette out of his hotel window, he inadvertently sets off a chain of events that threaten to upset the tenuous balance of peace in a not-too-distant dystopian land...A profoundly disturbing allegory, "The Butt "reveals the heart of a distinctly modern darkness.
ebook, 0 pages
Published September 29th 2010 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published 2008)
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Anthony Vacca
May 03, 2016 Anthony Vacca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a committed smoker, I too worry about our current social climate which allows overly sensitive people to possibly pass draconian laws that will punish me for punishing my lungs by sentencing me to suffer through a surreal journey into war-torn third-world deserts where I will be at the mercy of any predator with the gift of politically correct gab. The world is full of suckers, and you and me makes two.
Jan 13, 2009 R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
Or The Marlboro Light of Darkness.

Here's a CliffNotesesque version of the novel:

Whoot! On order! Cartoony British dustjacket, but still...first time I've ever imported a book. I feel like Captain Carlos De Los Santoyana, or one of those...those wave-treading, circumnavigating Spanish spice merchants.

The Butt was named the winner of the annual Wodehouse Prize at the Hays Festival (winner receives champagne, a copy of the Collected Wodehouse, and a pig nam
Nov 22, 2008 Jan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
This book was a blistering mindfuck... a swimming, vivid nightmare set in a strange and fearful desert, it's part Kafka's Castle, part Island of Doctor Moreau. The prose props up the story beautifully, underlying the sweat and the sickness of the protagonist's journey at every point, but the world that Will Self created is utterly astounding. It is a world where good intentions are confounded when a tourist finds himself embroiled in a confusing dual colonial-traditional legal system upon violat ...more
Lawrence Windrush
Sep 09, 2012 Lawrence Windrush rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: will-self

What just happened? How did this get published? It's garbage, a waste of a considerable talent. It starts off in a very entertaining fashion with a holiday maker who having a last cigarette flicks the butt from his hotel balcony, unfortunately it lands on an elderly mans bald pate causing a slight burn. In a Comical series of misunderstandings it gets blown out of all proportion and he faces criminal charges.
So far so good, it's an entertaining romp in the manner of a less razor sharp Tom Wolfe
Oct 27, 2008 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Apostles of the apocalypse
Recommended to Jim by: LAT
WHEN WE succeed, nothing is less interesting than our intent; but the same cannot be said when we screw up. It's hard to imagine a scenario more profoundly snafued than the one Will Self has created for the protagonist of his latest novel, "The Butt."

At the end of a long vacation in a distant land, Tom Brodzinski unwittingly opens a perilous new chapter in his life when he makes good on his promise to quit smoking by flinging the butt of his last cigarette from the hotel balcony.

Unfortunately fo
Jan 31, 2009 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always enjoy Will Self's writing. He is entertaining and blisteringly intelligent. However, I remember reading somewhere that he once said he writes about ideas rather than concerning himself too much with plot and character development, and I wonder if this is his downfall. At some point in his novels, things always seem to descend into madness, and not in a good way. I don't know if it's a case of having too many ideas or not knowing where to take them, but I always finish his novels a littl ...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

I hate to admit this, but before this week, the last time I had read a book by Will Self was all the way back in 1992, with his early hit Cock & Bull; and that's a shame, because on the other side of the Atlantic he's sort of known as the British Chuck Palahniuk, the author of a whole string of slight
Jayne Charles
I once switched off a radio interview with Will Self because I was feeling sorry for the interviewer. I gave this book a go, though, in the belief that being irritating and writing great literature don’t have to be mutually exclusive. So it turned out, up to a point: this is very well written, original, and possessed of a sort of bleak sarcasm all of its own.

It’s set in a huge country – a Southern Hemisphere island continent where colonialism has marginalised the indigenous population; it has a
Mar 03, 2011 Tuck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
from pg 331, this when Tom slowly realizes his whole odyssey of punishment and rehabilitation (for smoking a cigarette) has been a huge scam, and one of the scammers he notes is talking to him on a cell phone imitating his wife, but anyway Tom gets a shiver:
"Hispid and viscid: Beelzebub’s proboscis was nuzzling at the sweet nooks and crannies of Tom’s cerebrum. It tickled."
You can like Will Self novels on many many levels: beautiful, odd, unique prose, big-picture geopolitics and history (usuall
Dec 01, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was intrigued by the synopsis on the book jacket - a wayward cigarette butt changes the course of one man's life. I was not expecting an alternate reality and a world that resembles one of Kurt Vonnegut's. Because of this, it took me awhile to get into the story and get involved with the main character. Once I was able to accept it for what it was, I found it irrisistable. There are shadows of the Iraq War in it, with the numerous checkpoints the characters must traverse, but it also explores ...more
Jan 06, 2009 Levi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I will need to think about this one for a while, and possibly read it again, before having a well-formulated opinion on it. At this point it's not my favorite Will Self book by a longshot, but it's still chock full of evocative imagery, lacerating satire, and disturbing dystopia. Sort of Kafka meets Swift meets . . . Will Self? This is another book that is best without any prior intimation of plot points and themes, so just either read it or don't. If you haven't read any of his books I ...more
Dane Cobain
Apr 24, 2016 Dane Cobain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m not sure how to categorise Self, as a writer – I guess I’d say that his work is subversive, but in a good way. In The Butt, we follow the story of a guy called Tom Brodzinski, when he decides to quit smoking in a foreign land and, in a moment of recklessness, he flicks the butt of his cigarette from the balcony of his holiday apartment.

Unfortunately, it lands in somebody’s hair, which causes a lawsuit. We then follow what happens to Tom in the aftermath of this. Interestingly, Self never rea
Jun 13, 2015 Fygaso rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book some time ago and while it is not one of my favourite of Self's books, it has become quite relevant recently.
The trial of the four back-packers in Malaysia for disrespecting the sacred mountain by taking naked photos in its presence may stir the frustration of anyone who has lived in a foreign culture. A relatively simple transgression of social code results in a compounding series of punishment and retribution that, as is familiar to Self's readers, become more and more absurd
Mike Steven
Aug 18, 2012 Mike Steven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I expect Will Self to get a five star review every time so I was slightly disappointed with this novel. Only slightly though. I think is suffers in my mind because the last Self book I read was 'The Book of Dave' and I loved that.

This story tells of a man's struggle to respond to a legal system in an unknown foreign country where it is believed that there 'is no such thing as an accident' and people are punished for the result of their actions and not their intentions. Tom Brodzinski decides to
Sep 14, 2009 Palmyrah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Will Self can go either way with me. I thoroughly enjoyed and admired The Book of Dave and Great Apes is one of my all-time favourites. I am generally bored or put off by his short stories and could make no headway at all with How the Dead Live.

This is a lighter-hearted and (some would say) lighter-minded work than either of my great favourites. An American is on holiday with his family in an imaginary Australasia where political correctness and multiculturalism have gone mad. He casually discar
Apr 25, 2009 Lisalou rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good Will Self book with an interesting premise. A tourist is traveling in a foreign country where smoking is very illegal. He lets his last cigarette butt fall off of the balcony where he's staying and it hits and burns the person on the balcony below. The tribe that the victim belongs to believes nothing is done unintentionally and the main character finds himself in a legal labyrinth mixed with native tribes' views on justice. The ending I saw coming from a mile off, however, the journey to ...more
Mark Love
Since giving up smoking is a favourite hobby of mine, and Will Self is a favourite author, this combination was bound to go down well with me.

Tom Brodzinski is abroad with his family, in a strangely unfamiliar country. He smokes his last cigarette and in a bizarre sequence of events finds himself with a blood debt to pay under an arcane and unintelligible tribal justice system. A journey upcountry becomes a Heart of Darkness penance tinged with menance and black black humour and plenty to shock
Bruno Bouchet
This was a put back on the shelf book. It's the first Self I've tried reading - a writer I always meant to try, so I was disappointed. There was some enjoyable description and phrases, but ultimately the plot was tired for me. The whole white man falling victim to ridiculously extreme tribal laws, reads in the first sections of the book as a classic rant against supposed political correctness. Traditional laws are easy to mock for 'civilised' white people. It's not Kafka-esque. Kafka was more su ...more
Dec 12, 2009 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Butt" is a dark farce reminiscent of Flann O'Brien's "The Third Policeman." Will Self dares you to laugh at the hilarious––but not really funny at all––plight of his main character, Tom Brodzinski.
For a minor misdemeanor involving a cigarette butt, Brodzinski is marooned in an imaginary composite of every outward bound tourist destination you can think of. Every move he makes seems to break some arcane taboo and to make his situation worse.
Four stars instead of five, because for me the endi
Mar 29, 2015 Lauren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I unashamedly adore Will Self. He is the only contemporary author I have found who makes me feel the exact same feeling as when I read Kafka, puzzlement, gnawing anxiety, the sweaty blind claustrophobia of repetitive dreams. The Butt is an easier read than Self's latest novels but it still picks you up, drags you along in a bemused daze and then punches you in the face.
I've seen so many reviews on here of people saying they put it down. DO NOT DO THAT. The end is worth it in itself, even though
Aug 31, 2010 Dave-O rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The dialogue is plodding where it should be clever. The spineless lead character just takes whatever is thrown his way in this absurd satire about colonialism which is more confusing than it is scathing. I stopped caring about halfway through, but I think the author did too.
Apr 12, 2013 Rand rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed, don-t, say-tire
For those who want to quit smoking but can't, read 5 pages of this book after each cigarette you smoke. Before long you'll pass on both the tobacco and this book.

The end was the best part, which is a shame—this could have been a brilliant novella.
Gautam Moharil
Tom is on a vacation with his family where he decides to quit smoking. On the balcony of his hotel, smoking his last cigarette, he flicks the burning butt over the edge and it lands on the bald scalp of a fellow Anglo who is married to a native of the land. Tom's troubles begin from this point onwards. As is the ritual of this unknown country the punishment of any crime is not just imprisonment but the perpetrator has to make up to the tribe whose member he has harmed. Hence Tom has to travel th ...more
Dec 21, 2009 Tim rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Self has created a cartoon world which I did not care to linger long in. The main character's passivity annoyed me enough to eliminate any search for higher meaning or deeper humor. Felt quite fine closing this book and walking away from it.
Jan 19, 2010 Aurélie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Bof, bof...Le livre commence bien, le début est original et drôle. On est pris par l'intrigue.Mais la suite est décevante et on perd le fil. Dommage.
Martin Lindsay
Dec 29, 2014 Martin Lindsay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
I was drawn into the farcical premise, but found it something of a slog to get through. Tom was hard to like, and the consequences of the crime exceeded my generally loose limits of credibility.

The second half is a sort of roadtrip into a godforsaken land that devolves into fever dream. And if you're going to tackle that, it needs to hold a candle to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to cut it. This roadtrip felt more like the real thing - stuck in the passenger seat on a long hot tedious journey.
Sep 03, 2014 Leila rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really shouldn't write a review because I didn't finish this book, but I have to say that I hated it. As my first foray into the writing of Will Self, this didn't make for an auspicious start. I had this on my want to read list for a long time, and the glowing praise and sycophancy of critics everywhere made me really keen to know what all the fuss was about. This book is nonsense and gobbledy gook, with no real narrative structure, or point, written in the screenplay treatment style- meaning ...more
Apr 11, 2013 J213 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel like Towelie from South Park... "I have no idea what's going on." There's a metaphor that explains The Butt, I'm sure of it, but it clearly sailed way over my head and while it seemed like I was following it in the sky and thought I might actually catch up to it, I realized I was... wait, nevermind. No analogies. This book is IN-SANE. Let's just go from there.

The Butt is a certifiable satirical kaleidoscope. A wonderfully bizarre story told in the most frustratingly nonchalant voice that
Graham Crawford
Dec 23, 2013 Graham Crawford rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't enjoy this book one little bit - and I have a nagging suspicion that was my own fault. I work with an Australian Indigenous community so I'm far to close to the subject matter to see what Will Self was trying to say with this book. All I could see was a grotesquely distorted caricature of my own country. I think he intended to satirize his own countrymen's (and American Tourists') attitude to indigenous culture in the colonies, but his focus was my blind spot.

I read much of this book a
Mar 05, 2013 D.M. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The one thing I can always rely on with Will Self is that I never know quite what to expect. Once again, here he delivers a strange story full of little surprises and intercut with a sort of travelogue on an island nation of his own invention (with the accompanying, slightly offensive Native Culture he's created). Apparently, there's an allegory or a metaphor or some such symbolism at play here, but I've never been one for that. Instead, I go for a story as it's given. I tend to think a good sto ...more
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William Self is an English novelist, reviewer and columnist. He received his education at University College School, Christ's College Finchley, and Exeter College, Oxford. He is married to journalist Deborah Orr.

Self is known for his satirical, grotesque and fantastic novels and short stories set in seemingly parallel universes.
More about Will Self...

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