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The Sweet Smell of Psychosis
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The Sweet Smell of Psychosis

3.44  ·  Rating Details ·  470 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
It looks like it is going to be quite a Christmas for Richard Hermes, a Christmas powdered with cocaine and whining with the white noise of urban derangement. Not so much enfolded, as trapped in the bosom of the nastiest, most venal media clique in London, Richard is losing it on all fronts.
Paperback, 92 pages
Published May 15th 1997 by Trafalgar Square (first published November 21st 1996)
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Anthony Vacca
Jul 24, 2014 Anthony Vacca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anthony by: MJ Nicholls
Will Self's nasty little novella puns its title off of the American noir classic The Sweet Smell of Success (which, to my noir-loving shame, I have yet to watch), but goes down a much sleazier and anatomically repulsive rabbit hole (I assume) than any that Burt Lancaster or Tony Curtis went down in that flick.

Richard Hermes is a young reporter who falls under the thrall of Bell, a real villain of a media personality, and his cabal of sycophantic hack newsmen, all of who do double duty as his pe
MJ Nicholls
Jun 05, 2009 MJ Nicholls rated it it was amazing
This is the most physically disturbing work by Will Self I've read (it actually made me semi-gag in places). Does that grab your attention?

Written in collaboration with tip-top cartoonist Martin Rowson, who provided a dozen or so ghoulish drawings, this is one of the most interesting little finds in Self's burgeoning oeuvre.

The story is almost atypically Self-ish, centring around a weedy hack desperate to claw his way into a subcultural journalistic elite in London (of course), and equally desp
Carmilla Voiez
I loved Great Apes so I wanted to read more by Will Self. The Sweet Smell of Psychosis is a short read. It's about a journalist who becomes obsessed with the hub of a clique, a huge man called Bell. The novella has many funny moments and it is as confusing to read as it is to experience psychosis. Will Self is a master of prose. The reason I ranked it on the low scale was perhaps that I simply didn't get it. The story is about men. The only female character is merely an object of lust for the pr ...more
Aug 15, 2012 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Seedy satire. Not a pleasant read. Although the language is playful and poetic. (But Mr. Self’s writing usually is, even if that playfulness is sometimes overwhelmed by the implosive cynicism he’s having fun with.) Occasionally it’s maybe a bit too much (a typical sentence: “The apex of this pyramid of ephemera, ministered to by a pretentious priesthood, was the morning editorial meeting.”) Rarely is it too little (but: “The trip-hop tripped and hopped.”)

His cynicism can make for a tough read o
Andrew Francis
Sep 23, 2013 Andrew Francis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fans of Will Self’s characteristically very wordy and darkly comic writing style will enjoy this work. I enjoyed the quality of word-play and observational wit (reminiscent of Tom Sharpe) but didn’t find any of the characters sympathetic enough to feel strongly about this work. It’s a short and cleverly written and I would recommend it to readers who are not of a prudish constitution.
May 01, 2015 LJ rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Dec 02, 2013 Jim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
a less imaginative Martin Amis book with a lot more alliteration. the fish in the barrel meet the expected fate.

"Self is sometimes presented as a bad-boy outsider, writing, like the Americans William S Burroughs and Hubert Selby Jr, about sex, drugs and violence in a very direct way. Yet he is not some class warrior storming the citadels of the literary establishment from the outside, but an Oxford educated, middle-class metropolitan who, despite his protestations to the contrary in interviews,
Jan 07, 2016 Reuben rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Self is clearly a talented writer, and perhaps choosing this as my first exposure to his work was a bad call.

The problem with this novella was that it felt like it was trying far too hard to disgust. It reminded me strongly of Ballard and Burroughs, both writers I think can also go over the top with matters of the faecal, literal and figurative.

To give credit where credit is due, when this book is witty it is laugh out loud funny - it's just the ratio of hits to misses is about 1 to 25 (though
Susan Rose
Sep 09, 2015 Susan Rose rated it liked it
Shelves: novella, illustrated
This short novella* is written in Will Self's cuttingly witty,grotesque, cynical style, (if you don't like bad language and heaps of detailed sexual references he might not be for you). It follows Richard a sleazy member of the London media scene and his drug filled misadventures in the Sealink club. As its only a tiny book I don't want to give away any more, except to say this novella is filled with the worst types of people and if you don't like reading about unlikeable characters you may want ...more
Mar 24, 2014 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Starts well but gets mundane. Feels like an interesting satirical insight at first but loses its cutting edge quickly even though it's the slimmest volume I've read since Jean Rhys. Slightly reminiscent of Tom Sharpe except Tom Sharpe is more entertaining. I always feel like Will Self has something to say about the comedy and bitterness of life but it sometimes outsatirises itself.
Nov 18, 2015 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Self adorns his writing with a combination of both loquacious wordplay, and tumescent lexicon that results in an epic narrative of grandiloquent verbiage. He is far from being an easy read, an effect that he produces a mordant, tongue in cheek appraisal of today’s society. While his writing sounds intellectual it is often used to describe life’s most absurd and facile events. Caustically mocking the values of our societies, he takes the perspective of postmodernism and exploits it to its ultimat ...more
Simon Crowe
Mar 16, 2016 Simon Crowe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having only read My Idea of Fun by Self beforehand, this exceeded my expectations – this, in turn, may have contributed to the five stars. Between occasional rushes for my dictionary, I lapped it up: prose both punchy and verbose and wit mostley mordant, at times insightful.

It was no longer than it needed to be, the caricatures were as fleshed out as they needed to be and the stereotypes were naked stereotypes. What it had in common with My Idea of Fun was the (view spoiler)
Jul 13, 2009 Dave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A near-perfect novella, and a great one for a commute to work. Minor man of letters in a drug-fuelled descent into contemporary London Hell. Beautifully written.
Jan 06, 2008 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing, as much as the story, is what makes this book perhaps worth reading. The author has a strong command of vocabulary.
Aug 07, 2012 Stacie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is amazing how much fucked up-ness one can fit in so few pages. Great writing...fucked up characters...good times.
Jun 23, 2008 Guy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Geïllustreerde novelle van Brits societyfiguur Will Self, en meteen ook het eerste dat ik van hem las. Door de verwijzing naar 50s classic The Sweet Smell Of Success meteen al een mediasatire, maar dan van de vunzige soort. Richard Hermes is een van de vele pseudo-journalisten die in een smerig, zondenrijk Londen aan de kost geraakt zijn en zich binnen probeert te charmeren in het kliekje vleeszakken rond tv-persoonlijkheid (oxymoron-alarm) Bell, een clubje hielenlikkers dat zich op regelmatige ...more
Jeffrey Bumiller
Oct 13, 2013 Jeffrey Bumiller rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
My god, what a disaster. I can't believe that this is the same guy who wrote the very interesting, Psycho Too, a great book about what the Lettrist International termed, Psychogeography.

The writing is so bad, and so over-wrought. In this book Will Self writes like a poor man's William S. Burroughs, and it is extremely glaring (see the lone female character whose name, Bentley, closely resembles that of Burroughs' Dr. Benway.)

I imagine this is the same kind of writing that would appeal to fans o
Jan 24, 2016 Victoria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent short story will smith writes well so it reads as a literary novella without any pretense or snobbery on topics or subject matter that is wholly gritty and seedy Good read
Jul 24, 2015 Andy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The usual madness from Will Self, very cutting and accurate critique of the chattering media classes I thought
Taylor Lee
Sharp, biting, fevered, labyrinthine.
Nov 01, 2015 Christine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
3.5 stars
Ned Thacker
A slim, quick read: fast-paced, revelling in the more obscure corners of the English language, spraying venom in all directions, as in his description of a barful of journalists of the frothier variety: "They trafficked in the glibbest, slightest, most ephemeral cutural reflexivity, enacting a dialogue between society and its conscience that had all the resonance of a foil individual pie dish smitten with a paperclip."
Paul Blakemore
I'm not sure the term novella even applies here: it feels like a shaggy dog story or even just a 90 page set up to a vulgar joke.

It manages to be playful (in a grim and utterly sardonic way) as well as obscene at the same time. The people, events and even the vocabulary itself seem to revel in their own gratuity. I just didn't see the worth in delving into such a seedy and mean-spirited world.
Rob Mentzer
Sort of funny. Basically an 85-page wind-up to a punchline. Luckily it does not take very long to read. I pretty much liked it but will probably forget about it tomorrow.
Mar 10, 2007 Nigel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Grotesque and amusing in parts. Overall it didn't do much for me.
Becky Walker
Apr 13, 2013 Becky Walker rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Self at his unsettling best.
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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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