Will Self, Walking to Hollywood

Will Self talks about his new part-memoir, Walking to Hollywood
Will Self, Walking to Hollywood
The Telegraph interviews Will Self on his new semi-fictional memoir, Walking to Hollywood, where he discusses his fascination with Los Angeles, David Lynch and walking along the Yorkshire coast:
Will Self is not being entirely serious, but is he ever? We are standing in Thurloe Square in London SW7, looking at the trompe l’oeil effect this Victorian terrace produces from a particular angle. The building has only a blink-and-you’ll-miss it role in Self’s new book, a three-part memoir-cum-fantasia called Walking to Hollywood, but it jibes in a glinting, uncanny way with his abiding obsessions.

“It’s like a backlot,” he points out. You see that immediately — just as those main street fa├žades in old film studios did their duty for western after western, this presents an equally artificial-looking frontage for imaginary tales of well-to-do Londoners. Except that it’s not artificial at all: the thin end of the wedge widens quickly into the full width of a thoroughly inhabited red-brick block.

Self prefers to see it as the sort of spectacle you might find, as he puts it with characteristic highbrow exactitude, in “Nathanael West’s Sargasso of the imagination”. I just about grasp that as a quotation from The Day of the Locust, West’s lacerating novel of 1939 about the aspirations and rotted dreams of Hollywood’s downtrodden, all of them extras in a pageant of apocalyptic grotesqueries.


Self says he’s in love with LA, which gives him a “gee-whizzery” feeling that he’s never felt on the East Coast (he is half American; his mother came from New York). The culture he describes is a palimpsest at once bewildering and seductive, a planet unto itself, and one that clearly fascinates him as much as it did David Lynch in Mulholland Drive.

“Lynch is the contemporary film-maker I feel the most affinity with. I interviewed him last year, actually. Didn’t get a thing out of him, except ‘Gee! Wow! That’s cool!’ He’s very good at hiding from interpretation.” [Read more]

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