ISBN 978-1-59691-664-7
At that time these redbrick warrens had been overrun by punks, who lolloped furtively along their balconies, halting in the stairwells to nibble amphetamines, their soap stiffened mohicans twitching like rabbit ears.

Published in 2008 by Bloosmbury,  Liver: A Fictional Organ with a Surface Anatomy of Four Lobes was written by the English author Will Self. A most curious book. Late 20th century London, compassion, wit and livers in distress sums it up pretty well.

The copy that I read was a first US edition, the copyright page of which did not specify whether the work was a collection of stories or a novel. Not until the last section did I begin to suspect that I was in fact consuming a  novel. The reason why for this is the narration— you'll have to read it for yourself to see what I mean, as I am not about to spoil things for you here.

The first part deals with the occupants of a private drinking club in a seedy part of London and is rife with cockney dialect. The second is a more loving, serious and sad tale of an old woman of strong faith who leaves London to be euthanized in Zurich after learning that her liver cancer is terminal. The third is the most baroque and hilarious as it places the legend of Prometheus and Zeus and Pandora et al in the context of a modern London advertising agency. The fourth part deals with junkies waiting to make their daily score—it crosses over from droll to absurd to sad and back more times than I could count.

I really enjoyed this book. It sent me to the dictionary a few times. It made me laugh out loud. But mostly it made me wonder about how much control we humans have on our own lives and how we allow that control to erode. It would have been nice to have at least one happy liver in the lot but that seems not to have been the aim of Mr. Self.

Don't read this book if you dislike reading about casual liver abuse. Or the repeated use of the word "cunt" to mean bloke.