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The North London Book of the Dead

This study guide will help you analyze the short story “The North London Book of the Dead” by Will Self. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it. 

Presentation of the text

Title: “The North London Book of the Dead” (1991)
Author: William Woodard Self
Genre: Short story

Will Self (b. 1961) is an English author, journalist, and TV personality. He has written several novels and short story collections, including The Quantity Theory of Insanity, where “The North London Book of the Dead” was published. Self's fiction often deals with topics such as mental health and the use of drugs.

Excerpt

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The narrator’s inner characterization shows that he has a close, but tense relationship with his mother, as suggested by the following example: “I felt that I had lost an adversary. Someone to test myself against. My greatest fan and my severest critic and above all a good talker, who I was only just getting to know as a person”. This is also seen when the narrator wishes to have his mother admit she was wrong about the afterlife.

Initially, the narrator seems conflicted after his mother’s death: “Mother’s death was a kind of relief, but it was also bizarre and hallucinatory”. This shows that he is initially in denial about her death and does not see it as real. He also feels depressed. Her presence follows him in his dreams, which shows that he finds it hard to accept her death. Ten months after her death

 

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The North London Book of the Dead

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