Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Butt” as Want to Read:
The Butt
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Butt

3.02 of 5 stars 3.02  ·  rating details  ·  646 ratings  ·  89 reviews
“John Gray meets Joseph Conrad, "Apocalypse Now "meets Graham Greene, Russell Hoban meets Mad Max, J. G . Ballard meets himself. From the flip of the butt onward, Sartre presides over it all.”—"Guardian "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 ...more
Paperback, 355 pages
Published June 1st 2009 by Bloomsbury UK (first published 2008)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Butt, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Butt

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,151)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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 5 of 5 stars  ·  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

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 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Martin Lindsay
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.
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
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
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
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
Mike Steven
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
Oh man, I did not like this book. The thing is, I liked a previous book that Will Self wrote, when I read his book entitled How The Dead Live. It was a weird book where the premise was that when you die in London, you don't get buried, you just move to a different part of London that you never knew existed before, because that is where all the dead people go to.

Anyway, this book is also weird, and somehow I did not like the weirdness. It is entitled The Butt, and it is about this guy, Tom Brodzi
Sam Pryce
Whatever Self was on when he was writing The Butt, I want some of it.

I borrowed this from a library whose customers consist only of those over 60, and I found that - over the years - many of them have borrowed The Butt. Possibly, they were intrigued by the blurb and had just given up smoking themselves thus feeling an empathy with Tom Brodzinski. They thought, "Hey! This'll be good! What an interesting premise!" So, they decided to take it out. Little did they know that Will Self wanted this to
Dylan Popowicz
An interesting introduction to the literature of a man I have only known through the various television appearances that littered my childhood and teenage years (he's mannerisms hardly go unnoticed). Deeply satircal (although not as much as you would hope) and written in a simple and yet oddly sharp prose, the book acted as a wonderful respite from the dull straight-forward nature of other "intellectual" novels--for someone that you would easily find to seem "pretentious" his writing is in-fact ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 38 39 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Chance in Hell
  • American Gangbang: A Love Story
  • Enormity
  • Attic Clowns
  • Famous Drownings in Literary History: Essays on 21st-Century Jewishness
  • I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts: Drive-by Essays on American Dread, American Dreams
  • Broken Bulbs
  • Charles Jessold, Considered As A Murderer
  • Code for Failure
  • Best European Fiction 2011
  • Angry Young Spaceman
  • The Restoration Game
  • Under the Harrow
  • The Canary Trainer: From the Memoirs of John H. Watson, M.D.
  • Luminarium
  • The Village: 400 Years of Beats and Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues
  • All Shall Be Well; And All Shall Be Well; And All Manner of Things Shall Be Well
  • The Dewey Decimal System
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...
Great Apes The Book of Dave: A Revelation of the Recent Past and the Distant Future How the Dead Live The Quantity Theory of Insanity My Idea of Fun

Share This Book