October 03, 1997 at 04:00 AM EDT

Great Apes

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Will Self
genre
Fiction
We gave it a B-

Will Self, gothic bad boy of British lit, has here reversed the roles of man and chimp, so that men are in the zoos and medical experiments, while primates are running the world. Famous painter Simon Dykes wakes up one day with the most horrific delusion: He thinks he’s human! Enter eminent shrink Zach Busner, who sees in Simon a chance to go down in history as one of psychiatry’s Great Apes. Self details everything in his inverted world, from primate mating rituals to language (”grease human”; ”Planet of the Humans”). Still, the conceit gets a bit old. Look what a Great Author I am, Self seems to be telegraphing on every page. Ultimately, he has all the entertainment power of a show-off. B-

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