“Self writes in a high-modernist, hallucinatory, stream-of-consciousness style, leaping between sentences, time periods, and perspectives. It can be difficult to hang on, but if, like the titular creature, you keep moving through the ‘verbal bouillabaisse,’ the reward is a strange, vivid book.”New Yorker
May 4, 1970. A week earlier, President Nixon ordered American ground forces into Cambodia to pursue the Vietcong. By the end of the day, four students will be shot dead by the National Guard on the grounds of Kent State University. On the other side of the Atlantic, it’s a brilliant sunny morning after an April of heavy rain, and at the “Concept House” therapeutic community he has set up in the London suburb of Willesden, maverick psychiatrist Dr. Zack Busner has been tricked into joining a decidedly ill-advised LSD trip with several of its disturbed residents. Five years later, sitting in a nearby cinema watching Steven Spielberg’s Jaws
, Busner realizes the true nature of the events that transpired on that dread-soaked day, when a survivor of the worst disaster in the U.S. Navy’s historythe sinking of the USS Indianapolis
came face-to-face with the British Royal Air Force observer on the Enola Gay
’s mission to bomb Hiroshima.
Loosely following on from his Man Bookershortlisted Umbrella
continues Self’s exploration of the complex relationship between human psychopathology and human technological progress and, like Umbrella
, weaves together multiple narratives across several decades of the twentieth century to produce the tapestry we’re enmeshed in."I had planned to write Jaws without the shark," Will Self in The Guardian