I read so few books now compared to a few years ago when I never went anywhere without one, I thought I'd at least record the books I have finished. I recently completed Will Self's Great Apes. The introduction is one of the most exciting and thought provoking pieces of writing I've ever come across and so I expected it to be as good if not better.
However it wasn't. Either from cosmic serendipity or sheer volume of ground covered these days I found the time spent thinking about being a primate (albeit an extraordinary one) quite useful. It ties into Mark Earls Herd thinking a fair bit though I think it brings the topic to life in a way that non-fiction can't. I can't say I enjoyed all the primate language throughout the book, and I even found the plot a bit pedestrian, but it does achieve a satisfying reconciliation by having a point and a purpose and it's greatest achievement is to point out our evolutionary crossovers with other primates though I'm not a stand Darwinist on this matter at all.
At times it does feel like Self is making a point at somebody throughout the entire book, as well as in the beginning capturing the heady days of MDMA use and Jungle music from London in the mid 90's. This is probably to be expected from one of our generations most clever (and funny) writers, famous for shooting up heroin on John Major's Prime Ministerial jet back in 97 before Tony Blair and things... could only get better.
Of late Self has taken to smoking a pipe at the New Statesman and is intellectually breast feeding on the 911 commission report which is inexcusable but not unusual for influential writers, as none have the application to look at the weight of evidence or the courage to take an unpopular position on the matter.
Here's the first page: