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@Read Epub ⚾ Dorian: An Imitation Ö Dorian Will Self s brilliant imitation of Oscar Wilde s original tainted love story Brutal, savage, infinitely readable Observer Chilling, hysterical, tasteless and haunting A Gothic thriller complementing and enriching its original Independent on SundayIn the summer of , aristocratic, drug addicted Henry Wooten and Warhol acolyte Baz Hallward meet Dorian Gray Dorian is a golden adonis perfect, pure and so far deliciously uncorrupted The subject of Baz s video installation, Cathode Narcissus, and the object of Henry s attentions, Dorian is launched on a hedonistic binge that spans the s and s But as Baz and Henry succumb to the disease du jour, how is it that Dorian, despite all his sexual and narcotic debauchery, remains so unsullied so vibrantly alive A book that filled its first reviewers with the odour of moral and spiritual putrefaction just got smellier, darker and funnier Observer Dorian will be adored by fans of Will Self and Martin Amis and is an essential read for those who enjoyed The Picture of Dorian GrayWill Self is the author of nine novels including Cock and Bull My Idea of Fun Great Apes How the Dead Live Dorian, an Imitation The Book of Dave The Butt Walking to Hollywood and Umbrella, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize He has written five collections of shorter fiction and three novellas The Quantity Theory of Insanity Grey Area License to Hug The Sweet Smell of Psychosis Design Faults in the VolvoTurbo Tough, Tough Toys for Tough, Tough Boys Dr Mukti and Other Tales of Woe and Liver A Fictional Organ with a Surface Anatomy of Four Lobes Self has also compiled a number of nonfiction works, including The Undivided Self Selected Stories Junk Mail Perfidious Man Sore Sites Feeding Frenzy Psychogeography Psycho Too and The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Prawn Cracker This was longlisted for the Booker back in 2002, so in some respects I read it as preparation for this year s Booker marathon Also, it seemed an interesting premise it reminded me that back in 1970 there was a filmic modern update on the Dorian Gray story that also didn t quite come off, starring German slab of beef Helmut Berger in his prime Anyway, I am of two minds with this, my first and possibly last Will Self tome The lapidary prose is incredible, although perhaps not QUITE up to This was longlisted for the Booker back in 2002, so in some respects I read it as preparation for this year s Booker marathon Also, it seemed an interesting premise it reminded me that back in 1970 there was a filmic modern update on the Dorian Gray story that also didn t quite come off, starring German slab of beef Helmut Berger in his prime Anyway, I am of two minds with this, my first and possibly last Will Self tome The lapidary prose is incredible, although perhaps not QUITE up to the standard set by Wilde himself in the original And the transposition of the Victorian hedonism to the gay drug addled demi monde of the late 20th Century works, for the most part, even if Self seems muchat home with the drug world than he does the gay one But he tries way too hard to effect some sort of American Psycho style that just comes off as desperate, and his odd fixation on Warhol and Princess Di is just bizarre in retrospect Plus, there is somewhat of a cruel streak in his equating the ravages of AIDS with debauchery that reeks of sophistry Another book from the 2002 Booker longlist, this is a book full of surprises It is basically an updated version of Oscar Wilde s The Picture of Dorian Gray, starting in 1981 and finishing in 1997 For much of the book Self mirrors the original narrative, though his wit isheavy handed than Wilde s and his excesses areextreme He is never able to resist showing off his knowledge of linguistic obscurities, peppers the book with a huge range of both high and low brow references, and he Another book from the 2002 Booker longlist, this is a book full of surprises It is basically an updated version of Oscar Wilde s The Picture of Dorian Gray, starting in 1981 and finishing in 1997 For much of the book Self mirrors the original narrative, though his wit isheavy handed than Wilde s and his excesses areextreme He is never able to resist showing off his knowledge of linguistic obscurities, peppers the book with a huge range of both high and low brow references, and he also revels in some pretty grisly and unsavoury scenes, so it is not a book for the easily offended.The updates work fairly naturally Basil Hallward s picture becomes a video installation, and Henry Wotton and Dorian Gray move from the narcissism of the gay scene of early 80s London and New York to the dark shadow of AIDS in the late 80s and early 90s Both Wotton and Gray are portrayed as muchvicious characters than in Wilde s original.The book gets muchinteresting towards the end view spoiler The main body of the novel ends with the deaths of Gray and Wotton The epilogue is a rather clever metafictional game Gray, who is still alive, is presented with the story by the widowed Victoria Wotton, as a manuscript written by Henry and discovered after his death This Gray has a successful advertising business and is involved in New Labour, and the manuscript is revealed as the product of Wotton s warped imagination But Self doesn t leave it there, the last few pages twist it again to give the whole thing a fittingly macabre conclusion hide spoiler This is only the second Self book I have read after the atypical The Book of Dave, which I read a few years ago and did not really impress me It is difficult to ignore his archly exaggerated media persona, but this one was muchinteresting and memorable than I expected Sacreligiously, I prefer this to Wilde s original And I greatly prefer it to any of Will Self s other fiction I ve read Always been a big fan of his non fiction, the stories less so I doubt I ll ever read a better re write of a classic those things are not known even for being good, but this is superlative.Such profusion and richness of language as Self uses is a precarious act most people can t get away with their attempts at this, making a long series of risible pratfalls as can be se Sacreligiously, I prefer this to Wilde s original And I greatly prefer it to any of Will Self s other fiction I ve read Always been a big fan of his non fiction, the stories less so I doubt I ll ever read a better re write of a classic those things are not known even for being good, but this is superlative.Such profusion and richness of language as Self uses is a precarious act most people can t get away with their attempts at this, making a long series of risible pratfalls as can be seen all over sites like this one, including in not a few of my old posts Many of us are better with the sort of pruned simplicity advocated here, in a post wonderfully entitled Don t Use Said , He Bellowed Creative Writing Lessons From the Primary School Classroom and only the occasional decorative flourish to mix it up Of course, there are those who think nobody should go all baroque with words, but that s not the point here I even think Self overdoes it sometimes, repeating what he s just said in different vocab for the sheer fun of it But the story of Dorian Gray, all that elite decadence and the famous blooming of all the flowers at once, regardless of season, could not be aperfect fit for Will Self s writing style and reference dropping And for his personality Very few contemporary writers could come up with so many new aphorisms of such high quality and just the right tone Wilde said Basil Hallward is what I think I am Lord Henry is what the world thinks me Dorian is what I would like to be in other ages, perhaps The 1980s version of Henry Wootton in Dorian is except for being gay rather than straight just what Will Self was popularly thought to be during his heroin years Although HW has, interestingly, Patrick Melrose s childhood as per Edward St Aubyn s Never Mind he turns his dissociation into an extra sense to use whilst driving There is another Self insert his Hallward in the form of a supporting character who s a novelist and high functioning addict Plus, this version ninety years on from the original doesn t have to leave out the sex, and can venture inside the doors of the opium den Contemporary sincerity isn t always a bad thing, and makes Dorianmoving andphilosophical dare I say, relevant and relatable, than the original Somehow, ridiculously to some of those who know me, I had never quite thought of social work and allied occupations as a way of safely feasting with panthers but the early scenes around Henry s mother s pet good works suddenly made it quite glaring Wilde s story has given Self s work what I now realise I found lacking in it before beauty and glamour The other stuff is grotesque in all but language For me, anyway, Dorian might be the ultimate decadent novel it has the brilliant allure of beauty and nostalgia alongside utter horror and fatalism in equal measure on some level I wanted to be there, to be one of them, despite knowing how hideously it would end In reality I know I prefer a part time watered down version, just like when I was younger I wanted to find friends like the characters from The Secret History but not murderous andaccepting Self s characters are all themselves, fitting perfectly with the rhythm of their own times, the 1980s and 90s Yet they remain absolutely excellent analogues to the originals This is the same glamorous, soon to be AIDS ravaged, gay London as Hollinghurst s later The Line of Beauty Tainted Love a song I ve always found to have a habit of popping up at spookily apt times made its second appearance in a few days in books I was reading, the others being in Beigbeder s A French Novel and Five Miles From Outer Hope by Nicola Barker As with every version of the story I ve read or seen, Hallward here a video installation artist ranked alongside Bill Viola, and a former Warhol acolyte is my favourite of the main characters Lord Henry s wit is very impressive, and Dorian might be beautiful to look at no one s ever cast him right in a film , but Baz Basil is to me likeable, dammit, and completely understandable in his human fallibility and semi requited love, as well as being an unwitting magician in this darkly glittering world.The further metafictional flourish in the last chapter was a surprise I can t decide whether it added to the book or not, but a certain type of reader less wholly enamoured with the world of the book, and admiring the whole thingas an intellectual exercise will quite probably appreciate it.Looking back, I mlikely to regret things I have done than those I haven t Going against general advice But I did rather miss a trick with this book I went to a pre publication reading and signing back in 2002 but, unperceptively true to the un Wildean cult of authenticity, I decided to avoid this re write in favour of Will Self s original works, and saved money by getting an old paperback essay collection signed instead I m most glad of the inadvertant shove back in the direction of Dorian, thanks to a now vanished GR profile which displayed excellent taste One of the best things I ve read this year nigh on perfect as far as I was concerned Self s title here works two ways His Dorian is an imitation of Wilde s Picture of Dorian Gray, and Self s Dorian Gray, which is to say his hero, is an imitation of whatever he needs to be, given the situation at hand Numerous times the narrator refers to this man as a chameleon, and indeed there s something farsinister about this Dorian than Wilde s.Self has updated the story to AIDS era Britain Instead of a picture, Dorian is reproduced as Cathode Narcissus, a nine monitor video insta Self s title here works two ways His Dorian is an imitation of Wilde s Picture of Dorian Gray, and Self s Dorian Gray, which is to say his hero, is an imitation of whatever he needs to be, given the situation at hand Numerous times the narrator refers to this man as a chameleon, and indeed there s something farsinister about this Dorian than Wilde s.Self has updated the story to AIDS era Britain Instead of a picture, Dorian is reproduced as Cathode Narcissus, a nine monitor video installation of Dorian s nude body seen voyeuristically at all angles at once It s this video that Dorian wishes would age while he stays young, and, indeed, this is what happens But Self pushes the central magic further Dorian s video self also bears AIDS s ravages of the body, while the live Dorian is able to live with and spread the virus without any personal threat.What s great about this novel is how it sits right at that line between anti gay and anti gay which is to say, borderline homophobic but really in the end just smartly critical of all the failures of post Stonewall gay culture Self attacks the whole notion of gay identity and identification, most explicitly in the dialogue of his heroin shooting novelist stand in character Devenish It s been the misfortune of people who prefer sex with their own gender to be forced to regard this as some essential part of themselves After all, homosexuality was only defined as a pathology in response to the alleged healthiness of heterosexuality It s the great mistake of you erm you gays to mistake a mere attribute for an essence 212 And the same character attacks gay our culture s youth obsession If Gray were able to stay young and have this video installation age in his stead, he d be the icon of an era in which everyone seeks to hang on to their childhood until they re pressing furry fucking teddy bears against wrinkled cheeks You homosexuals are only the vanguard of a mutton army dressed as denim lambs 220.Will Self is straight or, well, straight or whatever , which complicates all this in stupid ways What I mean is, if it were, say, Foucault saying this which he did, essentially, regarding the first quote , or Roy Cohn in Angels in America who said something similar to the second quote regarding clout and anti discrimination laws , I d be fine with it The community or whatever would be fine with it, but as Self doesn t identify as gay nor could he I don t think , his writing could be seen as homophobic.It s not I for one am glad for Self s book I d much rather read something critical and thought provoking than the easy bromides of rah rah, Good for us gay fiction Even if the former isn t accurate, the latter feels like a lie