I was watching a documentary yesterday, with The City and The City open on my knee - an example of me not reading it - and Will Self came on. I nearly said to H 'I'm reading a book by him'. Then I realised that for some reason China Mieville and Will Self occupy almost the same point in my internal thought-map. I ought to like their books. I like them as people (as far as I know of them), they are British left wing SF fans like me, from my generation, we largely share values, they make me laugh when they tell funny stories on the telly. But I can't read their books.
For this to be a good blog post the final paragraph would resolve this paradox with some kind of insight, but I am currently lacking that insight. I don't think it's that they are masculine writers, as I like some very masculine writers such as Dashiell Hammett and James Ellroy. The nearest I can say is that their work is perhaps too mediated, too controlled; that is, the flow of the work seems to arise from authorial decision rather than authorial compulsion. They seem once removed from the work. They do not seem vulnerable in the work.
However, this could be way off. I am going to persist in this novel, at least for a while longer, and see if I can break through whatever barrier is excluding me from it. I also have some thoughts on the premise of the novel, but I ought to try to get into it before I say anything about that.