Love your liver!
Livers are super-important. And, as much as I love my heart, and I think my skin does a bang-up job of keeping my insides on the inside, when it comes to organs, my I love my liver a little more than the others. It does over 500 different jobs, and can regenerate itself. It is the Doctor Who of organs, and we should all give our upper abdomens a thumbs up. And then lay off booze, fat and sugar and eat more onions and broccoli.
Anyway, I’m going off track. Will Self’s ‘Liver’ contains two novellas and two short stories (four lobes), based around this wonderful organ. This is one of the Self’s more accessible books, although there is still Self’s highly imaginative weirdness going on (is that a real vulture flying about London opening up people’s torsos while they sit on the loo, or a product of a character’s delusions? – Nope it’s real. She leaves feathers).
The Plantation Club is a seedy dive full of alarmingly unpleasant people that often pop up in Self’s Novels, and they do here as well, so there are some familiar faces, doing very weird things.
My favourite story is ‘Leberknödel’ (liver dumplings), about terminally ill Joyce who goes off to Switzerland to end it all in, but decides to skip it. She is highly critical of the decor in the flat of death, which is something I know I would be. I’ve read articles before about people going to Dignitas and being upset by the Travelodge vibe. It really shouldn’t be too much to ask that the end is comfortable, but the clinic seems to be relying on the fact it’s past guests can’t leave bad reviews on Trip Advisor.
The final story ‘Birdy Num Num’ is set in a junkie’s flat told from the perspective of the Hepatitis C virus, making me feel like Self has climbed in through my ear and pushed the sides of my mind out a little bigger. This is a fascinating book, although, I felt the need to read some Barbara Pym after, to spend some time in the company of people who have garden parties and wonder how the new vicar is settling in.