book cover of The Sweet Smell of Psychosis

The Sweet Smell of Psychosis

(1996)
A Chapbook by

 
 
The Sweet Smell of Psychosis (very loosely based on Alexander Mackendrick's searing 50s movie Sweet Smell of Success) is the kind of mordant fable that Will Self could toss off in his sleep. But although it doesn't stretch Self's considerable talents, it is still a wonderfully poisonous entertainment.

Richard Hermes is a tiny cog in the London media machine, a hack whose only distinction is a tenuous position at the edge of the most powerful clique in town. At its heart is the loathsome Bell, a sort of malevolent anti-Oprah whose media omnipresence has given him enormous power.

One of Bell's most sycophantic acolytes had established--through certain arcane statistical computations--that there must, logically, be at least two hundred thousand people in Britain who did nothing else but listen to Bell's voice, watch Bell's face, or read his words, for every waking hour of their lives.

Richard is drawn deeper into Bell's web in pursuit of the gorgeous Ursula Bentley, but he can't keep up with the clique's colossal appetite for controlled substances. He soon begins to slide into drug-addled madness, and Self once again demonstrates his uncanny ability to render altered states in perfectly crafted prose. In fact, much of the pleasure that The Sweet Smell of Psychosis has to offer comes not from the story of Richard's inevitable fall, but from Self's deft and playful way with words. Few writers in English are able to use such beautiful language to describe the most revolting things. Whether he's writing about an excruciating hangover or Bell's naked body ("each pap sporting a twistle of black, black hair"), Self's decadent language begs to be savoured, even read out loud. Martin Rowson, the Hogarth to Self's Swift, provides some remarkable illustrations to accompany the text. Rowson's work (most recently showcased in his comic-book version of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman) is grim and shadowy, but filled with detail and twisted humour. Together, he and Self have created an elegant billet-aigre to London's dark underbelly, a cautionary tale that takes pleasure in its own unpleasantness. --Simon Leake

Genre: Literary Fiction

Used availability for Will Self's The Sweet Smell of Psychosis

Hardback Editions

November 1999 : USA Hardback

Title: The Sweet Smell of Psychosis
Author(s): Will Self
ISBN: 0-7881-6736-7 / 978-0-7881-6736-2 (USA edition)
Publisher: Bloomsbury Pub.
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


November 1996 : UK Hardback
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Title: The Sweet Smell of Psychosis
Author(s): Will Self
ISBN: 0-7475-3111-0 / 978-0-7475-3111-1 (UK edition)
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


Paperback Editions

September 2011 : UK Paperback
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Title: The Sweet Smell of Psychosis: reissued
Author(s): Will Self
ISBN: 1-4088-2739-5 / 978-1-4088-2739-0 (UK edition)
Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


February 2011 : USA Paperback
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Title: The posthumous papers of the Pickwick Club
Author(s): Cecil Charles Windsor Aldin
ISBN: 1-131-03100-8 / 978-1-131-03100-2 (USA edition)
Publisher: The New York Public Library
Availability: Amazon   


February 2011 : USA Paperback
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Title: The posthumous papers of the Pickwick Club
Author(s): Cecil Charles Windsor Aldin
ISBN: 1-131-05339-7 / 978-1-131-05339-4 (USA edition)
Publisher: The New York Public Library
Availability: Amazon   


August 1999 : USA Paperback
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Title: The Sweet Smell of Psychosis: A Novella
Author(s): Will Self
ISBN: 0-8021-3647-8 / 978-0-8021-3647-3 (USA edition)
Publisher: Grove Press
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


May 1997 : UK Paperback
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Title: The Sweet Smell of Psychosis
Author(s): Will Self
ISBN: 0-7475-3154-4 / 978-0-7475-3154-8 (UK edition)
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon AU   


Audio Editions

May 2016 : USA MP3 CD
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Title: Sweet Smell of Psychosis, The
Author(s): Will Self
ISBN: 1-5318-2552-4 / 978-1-5318-2552-2 (USA edition)
Publisher: Audible Studios on Brilliance Audio
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


February 2016 : USA Audio edition
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Title: The Sweet Smell of Psychosis: A Novella
Author(s): Will Self
Publisher: Audible Studios
Availability: Amazon   


February 2016 : Canada Audio edition
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Title: The Sweet Smell of Psychosis: A Novella
Author(s): Will Self
Publisher: Audible Studios
Availability: Amazon CA   


Kindle Editions

October 2012 : USA, Canada Kindle edition
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Title: The Sweet Smell of Psychosis: A Novella (Will Self)
Author(s): Will Self
Publisher: Grove Press
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA   


September 2012 : UK Kindle edition
thumb

Title: The Sweet Smell of Psychosis: reissued
Author(s): Will Self
Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks
Availability: Amazon UK