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The Quiddity of Will Self

3.40  ·  Rating details ·  109 ratings  ·  23 reviews
A ghost hovers outside the window of Will Self's study. She is Sylvie, a beautiful young woman who was recently murdered, who wants to influence Self's latest novel before she moves on... Her dead body was discovered by Richard, a twenty-something idler and literary wannabe. He discovers that Sylvie was a member of the W.S.C. - a mysterious cult of charismatic writers who ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published March 14th 2012 by Corsair
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Paul Bryant
So this novel which obsesses about the actual real author Will Self might have been so much fun. It thinks it is, that you can tell, and some readers agree. But for me it was like visiting friends who have a new dog which jumps up in your face and barks all the time. (Oh isn’t he an excitable adorable liddle biddy mmmm yes you are yes you are aren’t you!) Yes, when it’s your new dog you don’t mind so much. I didn’t want to not like this but The Quiddity of Will Self wasn’t my new dog.

Voice offs
This might seem an odd book for me to choose to read since I am not that much of a Will Self aficionado: I've read several of his articles and a couple of short stories, but none of his novels. However, I was really intrigued by the whole premise and concept of this novel and felt in the right mood for something surreal and meta. Also, it was 99p in the Kindle sale.

The book opens with Richard, an unsuccessful writer, finding the body of his neighbour Sylvie in her flat. Following a number of str
Phillip Edwards
Feb 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, fiction, possess
Quiddity means what? It means the essential nature of something, from the latin 'quid' meaning 'what'. And 'What?' was the first word that crossed my mind when I heard something heavy drop through my letterbox one morning. This book was the what - courtesy Sam Mills herself, who sent me a copy as a reward for slagging off Nick Clegg on Twitter. I was delighted because this was one of those books that make my eyes light up the moment I hear about them.

So, I hear you ask, it's about what?

What con
Apr 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary
When Richard finds his neighbour dead, surrounded by images of Will Self, little does he know how his life is going to change. He's attempting to write a novel but his anti-pyschotic drugs are dampening his mind. He remembers a card that fell from Sylvie's pocket last time he saw her and follows the clue to discover a cult that worships Will Self.

The prologue is incredibly random but made me smile in a word geek kind of way. After Richard discovers Will Self, his narrative starts to imitate him
Mar 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
It seems from the average star rating that Ms(?) Mills is receiving a less than enthusiastic response to her unorthodox self-examining novel (forgive me). In defence and support:

1) The book reminds us there are more than a thousand words in the English language, with good reason. Indeed, conjoined in non-quotidian clusters, words can prompt arising - even arousing - thoughts.

2) The book examines and comments upon salient social, cultural and personal issues, more often than not pertinent to our
Mar 25, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy, fluff
Too many polysyllabic words unnecessarily inserted into a text that did not require it, in an attempt to make the reader feel that the author is some sort of genius, akin to the Will Self character. (I found him, and his worshipper Jamie Curran, unutterably pompous. I never wish to read an actual Will Self novel.)
Aug 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quiddity, from the Latin quidditas, describes the 'whatness' of a being or object. The quiddity of Sam Mills's novel is a heady commixture of sesquipedalian loquaciousness and meta-textual post-modernist tropes. The reader may be swept up in a Joycean feast of language, or engaged in a Sisyphean trudge from novel to dictionary and back.

Everything about ‘The Quiddity of Will Self’ screams cult classic; the clever presentation, the subtle media references to the real life ‘Will Self Club’ inaugura
Grim-Anal King
Feb 04, 2021 rated it liked it
Absurd yet ironically comprehensible.
David Hebblethwaite
Jul 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
The quiddity of something is its ‘whatness’, the essential aspects which it shares with other things. This contrasts (we learn in Sam Mills’s first novel for adults) with haecceity, which is a thing’s ‘thisness’, the essential characteristics which make it particular. With that in mind, I’d say that the world could do with more novels which have the quiddity of The Quiddity of Will Self; not to mention more novels with equivalent haecceity to The Quiddity of Will Self.

Still with me? Excellent –
J.F. Lawrence
Apr 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book has all kinds of metafictional fun and games in store for you, if you choose to step into author Sam Mills's Alice in Ayahuasca Land surrealist paean to the almighty Will Self. Self's spirit and style, cleverly parodied in the opening section as the increasingly deranged Richard Smith becomes obsessed with Self and the apparently sinister Will Self Club and merges his fractured identity with that of the famous writer; and many of Self's concerns - the nature of language and its limits, ...more
J.T. Wilson
Nov 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
A wannabe writer, Richard, finds his unremarkable life turned upside-down when he finds his downstairs neighbour Sylvie dead and her face unrecognisable: as if she was trying to look like someone else. The only clue is a card inviting her to the mysterious WSC, at whose centre lurks a circle of literary brats. What secrets do they hold - and what do they want with Richard?

Okay look. If you're going to go into full-blown weirdness you need something for the audience to cling onto. You either put
Norton Stone
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
It is a literary fiction, homage, and desperate cry for recognition which broadly works on all fronts. I lapped this up because the writer can write. Art imitating life imitating art imitating...etc can be a tad confusing and this deliberately plays games with the reader. It took 9 years to write and it shows a little in some parts being better than others. This author likes words. Whereas Amis would you have you grabbing the dictionary two or three times a page, Mills is only marginally less de ...more
Mar 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Quiddity of Will Self
Sam Mills (Author)

To say that Sam Mill's The Quiddity of Will Self is an unusual book is something of an understatement. It is part love letter, part murder mystery, part ghost story, and part state of the union address. It follows Richard, an early twenties graduate, who is idling away his life following an inheritance, and the sudden and unexpected death of his neighbour, Sylvie, which leads him onto an unexpected path, as these things tend to. It follows him into a wo
Litro  Magazine
Aug 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Giles Anderson: The Quiddity of Will Self is perhaps flawed, but it’s also a great and very ambitious book, and it needs to be accepted for what it is. You can enjoy the ideas, the invention, and the constant confusion of fact, fiction and authorship—one reviewer got the author’s gender wrong, not so strange when you consider that the fictional version of Sam Mills is male in part five of the novel—but if you’re looking for a sympathetic narrator, you’re unlikely to find one here . . . . As Sam’ ...more
Aug 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read a Will Self book once. It gave me a migraine. He's not my only literary trigger (Herodotus has also set me off) but it does make me nervous to read another (there is one in my queue, though there is one of nearly everything in my stupid queue so that doesn't really mean anything).

A book 'about' Will Self, though, that's probably ok. And was. No swirling visions, no stabbing brainpain, no nausea. But pleasantly batshit, and I liked it. Self-conscious and eloquently foul-mouthed. Cocks ever
Paul Bisson
Mar 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
As deranged as much of Will Self's own fiction but then I guess that was the point. Dark, satirical and at times fairly funny this novel felt more like a post-post-modern literary exercise then anything with which I could emotionally connect. Still, all good fun and one of the most unusual books I've read in a long time. ...more
Becky Walker
Mar 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I might write a more fulsome review of this once I've fully digested it. I quite enjoyed Mia. I really enjoyed Richard and Sylvie. I'm not sure how I feel about Sam, largely because it splits from a very satisfying if surreal narrative. I'd come back to it, but I'm not sure I'd reread it in its entirety. ...more
Aug 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: summer-2013
I couldn't choose whether to give this 4 or 5. There's so much going on that it's hard to keep a handle on it all, which maybe makes it feel more of a 4 read than a 5 one. But then that seems like marking it more harshly for being ambitiously weird. 4 1/2? ...more
Tadzio Koelb
Apr 01, 2012 rated it did not like it
Readers should be prepared to travel in time not just to 2049, when part of the book is set, but to the 1980s, which was the last time many of the tricks deployed in this metafiction seemed fresh.
Alan Fricker
Feb 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: library
I was almost certainly too tired when I read this.
Jun 03, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
I a rush and picked it up by mistake thinking it was a Will Self book.
After flick reading it gave up. Too many other things to do and just couldn't get into it
Nero Calatrava
rated it it was amazing
Jun 16, 2016
Steve Knowles
rated it liked it
Sep 14, 2015
rated it did not like it
Feb 06, 2014
Mårten Sandén
rated it did not like it
Apr 25, 2014
Sarah Munro
rated it really liked it
Oct 20, 2012
rated it it was amazing
Apr 27, 2013
rated it really liked it
Oct 09, 2012
rated it liked it
Apr 16, 2012
rated it it was ok
May 15, 2017
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Samantha Mills
Sam Mills was born in 1975. After graduating from Lincoln College, Oxford University, she worked briefly as a chess journalist and publicist before becoming a full-time writer. She has contributed short stories to literary magazines such as Tomazi and 3am and written articles for the Guardian, The Weeklings and The Independent.

She is the author of 3 young adult novels, published by F

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