Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Book Review: The Sweet Smell of Psychosis

Dubbed a "Novella", the size of a large pamphlet (89 pages), I read this on the plane en-route to Las Vegas. I picked this one up on a recommendation noting that is was "odd and a quick read"; both were understatements.

I feel like I should offer up the brief synopsis provided by the publisher, this is the paragraph they are using to "sell" the book:

"A brief and brilliant satire of magazine hacks and fashionistas, The Sweet Smell of Psychosis shows Will Self - a writer acclaimed as "a masterly prose-maker" by London's Sunday Times - at the top of his form. It looks as if it's going to be quite a Christmas for Richard Hermes, powdered with cocaine and whining with the white noise of urban derangement. Not so much enfolded as trapped in the bosom of the most venal media clique in London, Richard is losing it on all fronts: he's losing his heart to Ursula Bentley, a nubile and vacuous magazine columnist; he's in danger of losing his job at the pretentious listings magazine Rendezvous; he's losing his mind courtesy of Colombia's chief illegal export; and, worst of all, he's losing his soul ... to Bell. Bell is a newspaper columnist, radio host, television personality - but more than that, he is the kingpin guiding the ship of media scandal through the lower depths. From his headquarters in the Sealink Club he pulls the strings that control the disseminators of drek and gatherers of glib. And he has had Ursula Bentley and just about everyone else, female and male. As Richard pursues the Jicki perfume wafting from Ursula, he is in fact being drawn into a much more sinister web. Murky, paranoid, and hilarious, The Sweet Smell of Psychosis is Will Self at his best."

Depending on who you are, that has the potential to at least sound somewhat interesting, right?

I might recommend that if the synopsis above is even the least bit interesting to you, that you might want to just stop there - reading the book may just end up disappointing you. This is a poorly written story that reads like you had the displeasure of getting trapped in an elevator with a sad sack who on the brink of a breakdown decides to pour out his tortured soul and all you could get from it is how bad you wished you were deaf and mute.

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