Hardback: 224pp

Published: Eye Books (April 2018)

ISBN: 9781785630644

Self & I

Matthew De Abaitua


A memoir of literary ambition

The scene is a remote cottage in Suffolk in the 1990s.

Will Self, newly divorced, is the in-demand enfant terrible of the British literary scene. Matthew De Abaitua, an eager young writer fresh out of Malcolm Bradbury's Creative Writing course at the University of East Anglia, is excited to be hired as his ‘amanuensis'.

It's not obvious what that intriguing job title will entail. In this unique, frank and often very funny portrait of one of our most talked-about and controversial literary figures, Self & I charts the highs and lows of the experience.

It is a compelling account of a remarkable time in Britain and British literature.






“An utterly compelling account of what it means to read, write, live and breathe literature. Anyone interested in the world of letters will devour this book with delight.”

Matt Thorne

“Very funny but with an undertow of melancholy, Self & I is at root a hymn to the vocation of writing and, as such, sings to all us nearly-writers, wannabe-writers and sometime-writers (i.e. all writers) with the ecstasy of scripture.”

Will Ashon, author of Strange Labyrinth

“A delicious peek into the Will Self 'industry' and the vanished publishing world of the Nineties, but it's also a wonderful, highly readable book about love and dedication.”

Lauren Elkin, author of Flâneuse


“If you love Withnail & I, you must read this hilarious and unexpectedly affectionate account of the period the author spent working as Will Self’s amanuensis in a cottage in Suffolk in the mid-90s, a job which required ‘a relentless willingness to participate in the unusual’. Self was then newly divorced and the in-demand enfant terrible, but really the book is about De Abaitua, a thrusting young writer fresh out of the UEA Creative Writing MA, and keen to learn from one of his literary heroes, as he tries and fails to write a novel.”

The Bookseller



Matthew De Abaitua

Matthew De Abaitua was born in Ormskirk, Liverpool.

He studied English Literature at the University of York and was awarded a British Academy grant to take the Creative Writing master's degree at the University of East Anglia, studying under Malcolm Bradbury.

After graduating from UEA, he spent six months living and working as an amanuensis to the novelist Will Self. He then joined The Idler as deputy editor and was literary editor of Esquire.

He is the author of three novels, The Red Men, If Then and The Destructives. A movie adaptation of The Red Men is currently in development with Warp Films and Shynola Films.

His memoir and history The Art of Camping: The History and Practice of Sleeping Under the Stars was described by The Economist as one of the books of 2011.

He lectures on creative writing and science fiction at the University of Essex and lives in Hackney.

Read more about Matthew at www.harrybravado.com.

Author photo by Russ & Heidi Zombie Bell

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