Such a grounded writer that he walks everywhere, Will Self is a unique voice in his generation for having no obvious linkages with cliques, schools or background clans. Though he in fact was born into a perfectly respectable academic heritage, and later went to Oxford, the picture of him as representing nothing normal except unhinged youth is not entirely misplaced. When young he went in for quite a lot of self-harm — cigarette ends and knives — before moving on to drugs, some of them very hard. For a frighteningly long while the two main things he was doing were reading and heroin. Nowadays he just does the reading, but he is still a hold-out cigarette smoker, like David Hockney and Martin Amis: one of the dwindling band. The main group he belongs to, however, consists of one person. Another thing that makes him rare among writers is that he is perfectly at home on television: one of his earlier roles, apart from road-sweeping, was as a stand-up comedian.