Tricky one… The first few dozen pages – and certainly the first twenty or so – are not typical of the whole of Will Self’s “Phone” (though they do set the tone). They are a bit like trying to find your face in a mirror that has been smashed on the floor. Almost impossible. I would imagine lots of people give up reading by page fifty. ‘Too hard…’ or, worse, ‘Rubbish…’
The book does require stamina. I kept at it because I had a sense it might just be ‘important’. It takes a while for the narrative to establish itself, but by about half-way it has pretty much done so. And it rattles along at the end: I finished the last 130 pages in one sitting.
So “Phone” is good and bad.
Good? It’s ambitious, challenging, clever, unique in many ways.
Bad? That opening (which, in it’s disjointedness, would be better placed at the end of the book in respect of one of the characters). And it’s far too long; I think it would have been much punchier at about 60% the length.
One thing it isn’t is unforgettable!