I sat on the Picadilly Line with Will Self's liver on my lap...
This novel was kindly sent to me by the publisher several weeks ago, and I started reading it at once. The only reason it's taken me so long to get around to reviewing it is that I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to do it justice. If I describe it as a postmodern extravaganza -- and surely someone somewhere has called it just that -- regular visitors here (if any there be) will see at once that it's not the sort of thing I usually read and review. But let's have a go anyway.
First of all, the title. I did not know what quiddity meant, and had to look it up, though if I hadn't bothered I'd have eventually found a definition some way into the novel. Here's what the OED has to say about it:
1 the inherent nature or essence of someone or something.2 a distinctive feature; a peculiarity:his quirks and quiddities
In symmetry with Will, I suffer from sex dysmorphia; I habitually feel like an angry young man trapped in the body of a female …
Be that as it may, there does seem to be some autobiographical material in this section -- it is undoubtedly true, for example, that Sam Mills was, or is, a writer of young adult novels, a couple of which I've reviewed on here, and almost certainly this novel did take nine years to write and was turned down by several publishers. As for the letter purportedly written by Sam to Will Self, and the account of his reply -- well, who knows. And does it matter? I don't think so. In fact I know it doesn't. For this is a novel partly -- or largely? -- about writing, about words, about identity and its confusions.