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Will Self: Dorian

Will Self: Dorian

UK 2009, 278 pp., brochure, € 17.95
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Penguin UK
Set against the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and '90s, Will Self's »Dorian« is a shameless reworking of our most significant myth of shamelessness. It is the summer of 1981 and Henry Wotton, uneasily gay, egregiously drug addicted, and queasily snobbish, is at the center of a Chelsea clique dedicated to timeless dissolution. His friend Baz Hallward, a sometime Warhol acolyte and video installation artist, has discovered a most remarkable young man, the very epitome of male beauty, Dorian Gray. Hallward's installation, »Cathode Narcissus«, captures all of Dorian's allure, but perhaps it's captured another more integral part of him as well? Certainly, after a night of debauchery that climaxes in a veritable conga line of buggery, Wotton and Hallward have been snared by a sinister retrovirus that becomes synonymous with the decade. After 16 years of delirious drug taking and ruthless fornication, their playmates have succumbed to the disease de jour. But what of Wotton and Hallward? How have they fared as the stock market soared and their T-cell counts plummeted? And what of Dorian, a sultan of style in an era of mass superficiality? While all around him sicken and age and die, how is it that Dorian remains so unsullied and so vibrantly alive?
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