• A Fool lies here who tried to hustle the East: Neo-Colonialism and Self-Fashioning in Hunter S. Thompson’s The Curse of Lono

      Stephenson, William; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2011-03-10)
      This essay departs from the critical consensus on The Curse of Lono (1983) to argue that it forms an important part of Hunter S. Thompson’s oeuvre and shows significant developments from his celebrated 1970s work. The novel functions politically as a critique of late twentieth-century US neo-colonialism and thus anticipates the current globalization debate, at the same time as wrestling with the connected problem of its author’s acknowledged status as a celebrity or branded American product. The Curse of Lono’s complex structure of interwoven extracts from Thompson’s research sources, as well as Ralph Steadman’s drawings, reduces the importance of the central subjective voice that Thompson had employed since his 1970s books, enabling the novel to comment ironically on the notorious Gonzo persona in which, thanks to the very success of his earlier work, Thompson had become trapped, and on which he still depended commercially (I refer here to Michel Foucault’s concept of the author-function). The Curse of Lono mocks its Gonzo protagonist as both a tourist and a buffoon: it comments on the subjectivism of Gonzo ironically, pushing celebrity to its ludicrous limit by making the protagonist divine. At the same time, the novel demonstrates how authorship can emerge from the historical forces that fashion culture, such as globalization In order to unpack the satirical content of The Curse of Lono in the detail it deserves, this essay adopts a position broadly aligned with the Marxist stance on globalization that sees it as a term masking Western imperialism and the needs of finance capital: I refer here to the work of David Held, Anthony McGrew, Peter Cox, James Annesley and others.
    • ‘He was struck out. Deleted’: We Need to Talk about Wesley in Nicola Barker’s Behindlings

      Pollard, Eileen; University of Chester
      This article provides a poststructural reading of the character of Wesley in Nicola Barker’s 2002 novel Behindlings, which is broadly informed by Jean-Luc Nancy’s thoughts on being and community and Jacques Derrida’s thinking on khōra, as well as other established poststructural paradigms. It contends that the novel simultaneously engages with these ideas and exceeds them. Wesley is the void-at-the-heart of his own ‘philosophy’: ‘He was hollow. He was empty […] He was a vacuum. He was struck-out. Deleted. He was nothing’. And he is everything as well at one and the same time. It is the classic poststructural paradox – receiving everything while possessing nothing – that makes meaning possible. And that is the argument: the signifier, the empty sign for some, the palimpsest for others, here is simply Wesley. However, my argument is that the characterisation of Wesley challenges and complicates such readings, deliberately. This article will demonstrate how the novel repeatedly sullies the theories it implicates by introducing a persistent taint to the main vehicle used to articulate the theory, the protagonist himself, that ‘puerile […] shithead’, Wesley.
    • Island of the assassins: Cannabis, spectacle, and terror in Alex Garland's The beach

      Stephenson, William; University College Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2005-06)
      This article discusses the use of the cannabis, spectacle, and terror in Alex Garland's novel, The Beach. The author argues that Garland's novel is a most contemporary text, exposing disturbing contradictions in the West's current ideology and behavior.
    • "A terrorism of the rich": Symbolic violence in Bret Easton Ellis's Glamorama and J G Ballard's Super-Cannes

      Stephenson, William; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2007-03)
      This article discusses two contemporary novels that question the received idea of terrorism as the desperate violence of disenfranchised groups. Glamorama and Super-Cannes symbolize the violence perpetrated by Western states and institutions by presenting us with terrorists who are corporate executives and supermodels, and who inflict their violence on ethnic minorities, or allow them to be wrongly blamed for it.