By Will Self
The premise is hilarious, the writing dynamic, the satire sharp. Still, I couldn’t finish this novel.
It’s the first book of Self’s I’ve read (tried to read) and my experience with it will not put me off others. In fact, I nearly finished. I don’t often quit books, but I don’t think I’ve ever done so when I’ve read as much as 80 percent of one. And yet that is what happened with this.
It just seemed to go round in circles. The ideas are brilliant and Self’s execution of them is wildly inventive. While the author seems to have endless ways of provoking and tickling his reader as he explores a novel filled with chimpanzees, including one who believes he’s human and superior to them all, he focuses not on driving a story forward but on exploring this limitless universe he’s created. He’s the sci-fi author who cannot help but include yet another laser-gun spaceship battle, forgetting that we want to know why the evil aliens are so evil and just what happened between the hero and his father to make him so good at piloting at lightspeed.
By four-fifths of the way through, I was through with this. There just was not enough story, not enough psychology, relative to aping about.