COCK AND BULL by Will Self

COCK AND BULL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Two eerily fascinating, original novellas, delving into a nightmarish world of sexual ambiguity and moral ambivalence, from British writer Self. Cock (``A Novelette'') and Bull (``A Farce'') offer complementary views of the dark possibilities that emerge when sexual differences are miraculously overcome. The former story concerns Carol, a miserable housewife who married the man responsible for her first orgasm only to have him turn into a cringing, boorish drunk. Finding a release from her desperation in masturbation, she discovers that she's also growing a penis, but eventually her disgust turns to admiration, and with a new-found assertiveness she's able to liberate herself from her husband in a final, grimly satisfying way. The narrator of Carol's tale, an unctuous Oxford don who trapped an unwilling listener in a train compartment, moves from words to action to reach a vicious climax of his own, brutalizing his fellow traveller before going his way. Bull poses another Kafkaesque turn, as a beefy sportswriter-turned- cabaret-critic awakens one morning to find that a vagina has formed between his calf and knee. Thinking it a wound, he seeks medical treatment, but his doctor, believed by all (and himself) to be a saint, becomes obsessed with it and quickly seduces his patient. After a few nights of unimaginable coupling, his moral scruples reappear and the two part company, but the hapless victim has conceived and flees to San Francisco to bear his shame alone. Savagely satirical and visceral, with all the tawdry glories of modern British life exposed: as chilling as it is outrageous. Definitely not for the squeamish. (First printing of 22,500)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-87113-531-0
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1993




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