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"Cock: A Novelette" is the story of a woman who grows a fully functional penis. "Bull: A Farce" is the story of a man who acquires a vagina and all its companion parts. There are, however, complications. Cock & Bull, the book that introduced an enfant terrible of English letters to an American audience, has quickly become a classic of blistering satire. "Cock: A Novelette" is the story of a woman who grows a fully functional penis. "Bull: A Farce" is the story of a man who acquires a vagina and all its companion parts. There are, however, complications. Cock & Bull, the book that introduced an enfant terrible of English letters to an American audience, has quickly become a classic of blistering satire.


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"Cock: A Novelette" is the story of a woman who grows a fully functional penis. "Bull: A Farce" is the story of a man who acquires a vagina and all its companion parts. There are, however, complications. Cock & Bull, the book that introduced an enfant terrible of English letters to an American audience, has quickly become a classic of blistering satire. "Cock: A Novelette" is the story of a woman who grows a fully functional penis. "Bull: A Farce" is the story of a man who acquires a vagina and all its companion parts. There are, however, complications. Cock & Bull, the book that introduced an enfant terrible of English letters to an American audience, has quickly become a classic of blistering satire.

30 review for Cock & Bull

  1. 5 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    For those seeking a pass into the perverse otherworld of Britain’s one-man imaginarium Will Self, these polymorphous novellas are a fine beginning. In ‘Cock’ a provincial wifey sprouts a string-bean male appendage that envelops her femininity, turning her into a masculine beast seeking to part the bald hillocks of her hubbie’s buttocks for some anal adventure. In ‘Bull,’ sports hack John Bull acquires a set of fleshy she-lips on his backleg and starts a strange affair with a vaginally fixated, p For those seeking a pass into the perverse otherworld of Britain’s one-man imaginarium Will Self, these polymorphous novellas are a fine beginning. In ‘Cock’ a provincial wifey sprouts a string-bean male appendage that envelops her femininity, turning her into a masculine beast seeking to part the bald hillocks of her hubbie’s buttocks for some anal adventure. In ‘Bull,’ sports hack John Bull acquires a set of fleshy she-lips on his backleg and starts a strange affair with a vaginally fixated, philandering GP. If these summaries don’t naphthalene your imagination then there really is no reason for you to read books. (Reading Self makes one inclined to use naphthalene as a verb—pardon me). Cock & Bull is a modern horror story—the horror of warped selfhood, how genital-gendering can lead to a strange transvestism of the self, can scramble our notions of wo/manliness so badly we don’t know whether to give or receive anymore. As usual, Self dazzles with his linguistic foreplay, taking us to a dreamy little climax with his powerful intellect and grotesque imagery. A sick treasure and one of my personal favourites, along with How the Dead Live. Bookspotters’ Note: This hardback edition from Atlantic Monthly Press circa 1993 has the best cover art. This is a re-read from a few years ago.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Shovelmonkey1

    Chapter One - a woman grows a cock Chapter Two - a man grows a vagina Finis. Wilf Self shudders, heaves a replete sigh of onanistic literary release and puts down his pen(is).

  3. 4 out of 5

    Trin

    Will Self really needs to shut up about vaginas. If I have to read another highly-pretentious, “literary”-crude, half-lustful and half-petrified description of the female genitalia—of which this book contains, oh, dozens—I may have to do something…unladylike. I mean, bloody hell! It’s a vagina. Get over it. This book intrigued me as all (all? There is so little. Sigh) published genderfuck intrigues me. It’s broken into two parts: the first involving a woman who grows a penis, the second involving Will Self really needs to shut up about vaginas. If I have to read another highly-pretentious, “literary”-crude, half-lustful and half-petrified description of the female genitalia—of which this book contains, oh, dozens—I may have to do something…unladylike. I mean, bloody hell! It’s a vagina. Get over it. This book intrigued me as all (all? There is so little. Sigh) published genderfuck intrigues me. It’s broken into two parts: the first involving a woman who grows a penis, the second involving a man who grows a vagina. The second is okay—I don’t think it actually says anything interesting about gender, but bits of it are sort of weirdly hot, if you like that sort of thing. (And I do, okay? Leave me alone. *g*) The first, however…ew. EW. Apparently, a woman who grows a cock will immediately rape her husband to death. And then rape random strangers on trains. Lovely! I’m not really sure what this is supposed to be saying about gender, either. Or about people. Well, except that Will Self apparently hates everybody. This is one of those books that makes me despair of “literary fiction.” It also made me want to take a long, thorough shower.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    "Cock" surprised me in the bad way. It wasn't what I was expecting, in the bad way, and it kind of horrified me, in the bad way. It turned out to be something I probably wouldn't like, in the bad way, even if I'd been expecting to read it in the first place. "Bull" is amazing. I love it a lot. It's actually pretty hot, and an interesting read. I hope my preference for the story about the man who grows a vagina and has an uberqueer affair with his male doctor over the story about the woman who grow "Cock" surprised me in the bad way. It wasn't what I was expecting, in the bad way, and it kind of horrified me, in the bad way. It turned out to be something I probably wouldn't like, in the bad way, even if I'd been expecting to read it in the first place. "Bull" is amazing. I love it a lot. It's actually pretty hot, and an interesting read. I hope my preference for the story about the man who grows a vagina and has an uberqueer affair with his male doctor over the story about the woman who grows a penis and rapes and murders her husband doesn't say something about my feminism.

  5. 5 out of 5

    James

    Cock and Bull is two independent stories back to back; connected through their core theme of an person who develops secondary genitalia, of the opposite gender. I didn't read them back to back – instead I read the first story, Cock, during a slow period in a non-fiction book on English grammar and then picked up the second story, Bull, a week (and two further books) after that. Both are typically Selfian; brutal tales of abuse, gender stereotype and role reversal. Both are set against tales Cock and Bull is two independent stories back to back; connected through their core theme of an person who develops secondary genitalia, of the opposite gender. I didn't read them back to back – instead I read the first story, Cock, during a slow period in a non-fiction book on English grammar and then picked up the second story, Bull, a week (and two further books) after that. Both are typically Selfian; brutal tales of abuse, gender stereotype and role reversal. Both are set against tales of depressing characters and backgrounds where the change is a catalyst to allow the protagonist to break free from that world to either damage, or be damaged by, those around them. The first, Cock: A Novella, is the story of an unhappy relationship – a drunken meeting at university leads to an increasingly alcoholic marriage – and the effect that relationship has on both Carol and Dan. Carol is a put-upon wife who settled for Dan because she assumed she couldn't do any better. He was the first (and only) man to every make her cum so she married him, but it never happened again. Dan is a dick. A figurative dick rather than a physical one. As they shamble through their marriage Carol slowly develops her secondary genitalia: a penis. Obviously this starts to change the dynamic of their relationship as Carol discovers a new, and totally different, personality as well. The second, Bull: A Farce, is the story of John Bull, a man's man, a sports writer forced to write the cabaret column in a local rag. Unlike Carol's, Bull's secondary genitalia appears overnight; a fully-formed vagina on the back of his left knee. Also, unlike Carol, he takes the sensible decision to actually see a doctor about it (although he believes it to be a cut and/or burn sustained while drunk). The story follows the paths of John Bull and Alan Margoulies (yes, try saying that name out loud), his doctor, as well as a small supporting cast (including the awful comedian, Razza Rob, who we are led to believe is the cause of Bull's condition). The narration style is unusual in the first story, but seems to work quite well: the unnamed narrator is a (presumably) Jewish guy on a train who is being told the story by a university don he met in the carriage. The don is relating the events as if a story he heard or an investigation he was involved in. At times the story jumps from the lives of Carol and Dan to the events in the carriage and then back again. Towards the end the don falls into some awkwardly anti-Semitic rants against the narrator (who I assume represents Self) which felt very out of place in the novella – and was what lost it the one star.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    If Kafka and Wilde decided to collaborate over a bottle of absinthe they'd twist words into a story like this. A sincerely bizarre look into the nature of the sexes from the other's point of view. If Kafka and Wilde decided to collaborate over a bottle of absinthe they'd twist words into a story like this. A sincerely bizarre look into the nature of the sexes from the other's point of view.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    Wordy and pervy, something for both sides, many tickled fancies.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Percival

    An education in what not to write. Never have I come across such a self-gratifying, reductivist and Daily-Mail-friendly exploration of genitalia and its links to masculinity and feminimity that indulges so freely in extraneous, superfluous detail. If Will Self's aim was to 'challenge' the reader, he may well of succeeded in the sense that my wading, cutting, through the black-sludge-passing-as-narrative that masquerades as multilayered existential complexity, did indeed leave me with a bad taste An education in what not to write. Never have I come across such a self-gratifying, reductivist and Daily-Mail-friendly exploration of genitalia and its links to masculinity and feminimity that indulges so freely in extraneous, superfluous detail. If Will Self's aim was to 'challenge' the reader, he may well of succeeded in the sense that my wading, cutting, through the black-sludge-passing-as-narrative that masquerades as multilayered existential complexity, did indeed leave me with a bad taste for reading en masse. (Oh and using italics to embed parallel story arcs does not translate as quirky and interesting, rather cloying and obvious)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

    Cock & Bull was recommended to me by a friend of a friend, and I found it in a thrift store not long after, so I picked it up, figuring why not. The description leaves plenty to be intrigued about - a story about a woman who grows a penis and story about a man who grows a vagina. Cock leads us into the life of a not-so-happily-but-also-not-so-unhappily married couple. Carol & Dan get together one drunken evening and end up marrying. The couple slowly descends into alcoholism (especially Dan). Mea Cock & Bull was recommended to me by a friend of a friend, and I found it in a thrift store not long after, so I picked it up, figuring why not. The description leaves plenty to be intrigued about - a story about a woman who grows a penis and story about a man who grows a vagina. Cock leads us into the life of a not-so-happily-but-also-not-so-unhappily married couple. Carol & Dan get together one drunken evening and end up marrying. The couple slowly descends into alcoholism (especially Dan). Meanwhile, Carol, tormented by her husband's drinking, but also thrilled to be given time to discover her own sexuality, begins to grow a penis. Bull introduces us to Bull, an aggressive and awkward rugby player and sports fanatic, stuck in a job he hates, who wakes up one morning to find what he suspects is a burn and/or a cut (but it's actually a vagina). He goes to his doctor, a philandering but otherwise goody-goody human being, who is disturbed at how much he is turned on by the vagina in Bull's leg. The stories are already grotesque and take a turn for the more grotesque, but Self is a master at easing the reader into each development, so about the time the action gets really salacious and shocking, you're basically expecting it. Self operates within rather stereotypical gender roles - Carole grows more aggressive when she grows a penis, Bull becomes more vulnerable - but he does so in a way that seems to make a mockery of them, or at least point out how outdated and ridiculous they are, which really extends beyond each particular story into the point of pairing them together. Each character, whether in possession of new genitalia or old, has their own weaknesses, strengths, vulnerabilites and aggressions, but it's easier to feel as though they're magnified due to Carol & Bull's circumstance. In reflection, Carol & Bull could've met the same fates had they been born with the genitalia they acquired. A really fascinating read, and highly recommended for anyone who wants to do some thinking about gender roles (which should be everyone). Might be for the best if you have an open mind or aren't easily shocked, though.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bandit

    This book could have been good, possibly great, the premise is interesting enough (gender reversal, etc.) and the writer is obviously talented, but instead to me it was an unpleasant non-engaging couple of stories about unpleasant uninteresting (with possible exception of Bull) characters and their sad lives ranging from insignificant to appalling and back. Altogether too precious, too pretentiously self-aware and too shocking for the sake of empty shock value of a book. Maybe I just really real This book could have been good, possibly great, the premise is interesting enough (gender reversal, etc.) and the writer is obviously talented, but instead to me it was an unpleasant non-engaging couple of stories about unpleasant uninteresting (with possible exception of Bull) characters and their sad lives ranging from insignificant to appalling and back. Altogether too precious, too pretentiously self-aware and too shocking for the sake of empty shock value of a book. Maybe I just really really wasn't in the mood for it. Either way this one I can't recommend.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    I have often said that if I were to have 3 wishes, one of them would be to have a penis for a day. This book takes that entire concept and just runs with it. The writing isn't the best, but the concept is amazing. I have often said that if I were to have 3 wishes, one of them would be to have a penis for a day. This book takes that entire concept and just runs with it. The writing isn't the best, but the concept is amazing.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dennis

    This wasn't a very entertaining book. There's a type of British humor which is pure cynicism but this book was more misanthropic than anything, in a juvenile sort of way. There was an idea here that was valid but poorly developed, more immature than provocative. Good thing it was so short. This wasn't a very entertaining book. There's a type of British humor which is pure cynicism but this book was more misanthropic than anything, in a juvenile sort of way. There was an idea here that was valid but poorly developed, more immature than provocative. Good thing it was so short.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Renzo

    A bit funny, a bit pretentious.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Bellish

    Objectionable on many levels. Given the premise and Self's undeniable talent as a writer it could have been much much better. I wouldn't have bothered finishing it if it weren't for book club. Objectionable on many levels. Given the premise and Self's undeniable talent as a writer it could have been much much better. I wouldn't have bothered finishing it if it weren't for book club.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

    I just didn't get it. I just didn't get it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    It's nice to find another exception to my "Fuck Britain" rule. Will Self manages to pair technical writing chops with a fundamental sense of humor, which is a rare gift indeed. He also manages to be in-your-face about it without having any of the obnoxiousness of a Tom Robbins or a Chuck Palahniuk. I think this is because he knows how to use archetypes well, and knows how to provoke thought with them. Kudos. It's nice to find another exception to my "Fuck Britain" rule. Will Self manages to pair technical writing chops with a fundamental sense of humor, which is a rare gift indeed. He also manages to be in-your-face about it without having any of the obnoxiousness of a Tom Robbins or a Chuck Palahniuk. I think this is because he knows how to use archetypes well, and knows how to provoke thought with them. Kudos.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I no longer recommend this to people cause they just look at like I'm insane. One for hardcore Self fans, this is a disturbing yet funny two novellas. 'Cock' is about a woman who grows a penis and rapes her husband (as you do); 'Bull' is about a man named 'Bull' who grows a vagina on the back of his leg, vagina leg is then raped by his doctor, vagina leg gets pregnant and Bull emigrates to bring his child up. Utterly bizarre but I loved them. I no longer recommend this to people cause they just look at like I'm insane. One for hardcore Self fans, this is a disturbing yet funny two novellas. 'Cock' is about a woman who grows a penis and rapes her husband (as you do); 'Bull' is about a man named 'Bull' who grows a vagina on the back of his leg, vagina leg is then raped by his doctor, vagina leg gets pregnant and Bull emigrates to bring his child up. Utterly bizarre but I loved them.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Glynn Lavender

    What can be said of Will Self's writings other than be prepared for a journey you may not want to take, be prepared to be confronted with things you may not want to confront. Be prepared to be amazed by an incredible, if twisted, author. What can be said of Will Self's writings other than be prepared for a journey you may not want to take, be prepared to be confronted with things you may not want to confront. Be prepared to be amazed by an incredible, if twisted, author.

  19. 5 out of 5

    RedL.

    I gotta re-read this. I'm sure I won't find it as engaging as I did back then, it was a bit pretentions already. What I remember the most is the clarity of my desire to embody, fully, both genders in my flesh and psyche. I gotta re-read this. I'm sure I won't find it as engaging as I did back then, it was a bit pretentions already. What I remember the most is the clarity of my desire to embody, fully, both genders in my flesh and psyche.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Julianne (Outlandish Lit)

    Lazy, self indulgent attempt at satire.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Allison Spino

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. In all honest, I would probably give this book a 3 1/2-star rating if I could. I didn't totally hate it, some of the crude language and matter of fact delivery made me laugh out loud literally a few times. The whole reason I picked up this book was it’s retro-artsy cover and ominously cheeky title. So when I read the back blurb that explained to me that these two stories were about a woman who grows a vagina and a man who acquires a vagina, I really didn’t expect much more than crude humor and s In all honest, I would probably give this book a 3 1/2-star rating if I could. I didn't totally hate it, some of the crude language and matter of fact delivery made me laugh out loud literally a few times. The whole reason I picked up this book was it’s retro-artsy cover and ominously cheeky title. So when I read the back blurb that explained to me that these two stories were about a woman who grows a vagina and a man who acquires a vagina, I really didn’t expect much more than crude humor and sex-focused stories (as one should when approaching stories like this, I feel like). I’m one to indulge myself in this kind of exploration and curiosity. A lot of people don’t like that kind of thing. And I get that. So if you’re not into that, obviously this book isn’t for you. The first story is about married lady Carol who grows a functioning penis (though, without balls) between her lady bits. She’s mainly empowered and aroused by her newly obtained body part and the feeling just continues to intensify as the story goes on. However, as much as I’m all for female empowerment of any kind, she then uses this power to seduce her sobering husband to drinking again so she can have her way with him so much so that she kills him. And I ain’t really about that though. Throughout this whole novella there are these interludes that go quite unexplained for a while, but ultimately tells us that our story is being delivered by word between two men on a train. The story comes to an odd close when the stories tie together, and the man telling the story on the train turns out to be Carol, lady with the dick, who then also rapes the person she’s telling the story to. Sexual force is a very obvious topic in these books, and that’s the one part of the stories that I really didn’t enjoy. The second story is about a single man named Bull (like the title of the story itself) who wakes up one day to find that he has a vagina in his knee pit. He goes to a doctor to get it looked at, and it turns out his doctor is a vagina-loving, sex-driven man who just wants to get in Bull’s knee pit now. Which he does, and then he has some dumb old crisis about how he’s cheating on his wife, even though he had been doing that with a regular-ass woman for a while now? Motives in all of these stories are quite odd. The best part of this story comes towards the end and in the epilogue, when Bull is actually impregnated and gives birth to a baby boy! We love happy endings!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Made it through "Cock" and a third of the way into "Bull", I already like the latter half better. There must be a "clever" reason for the deliberately grotesque and vulgar tone of the first novellette, and I admit that I got some of it, but the piled-on antisemitism completely derailed it for me. Again, I'm sure there was a reason the character was written like that, but it comes across as unnecessarily mean-spirited. The underlying plot was interesting enough, but, "gah", the narration is just Made it through "Cock" and a third of the way into "Bull", I already like the latter half better. There must be a "clever" reason for the deliberately grotesque and vulgar tone of the first novellette, and I admit that I got some of it, but the piled-on antisemitism completely derailed it for me. Again, I'm sure there was a reason the character was written like that, but it comes across as unnecessarily mean-spirited. The underlying plot was interesting enough, but, "gah", the narration is just abhorrent. Update: I stopped reading. I don't like to write reviews of books I haven't finished, so maybe "Bull" is worth your time, but "Cock" was just not for me.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    Perhaps, a satire to end all satires both stories push the bizarre to the limits. I first read this book back in the 1990's and it made me a big fan of Will Self. I remember little of that first reading but a second look still amazes me. Nobody male or female comes off well and I guess we deserve it. Perhaps, a satire to end all satires both stories push the bizarre to the limits. I first read this book back in the 1990's and it made me a big fan of Will Self. I remember little of that first reading but a second look still amazes me. Nobody male or female comes off well and I guess we deserve it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I hated this book, I had to DNF it. I had high expectation that didn't include anti Semitic language, blue terms for female genital, or (in my opinion) glorification and attempted eroticisation of male rape. No thanks. I hated this book, I had to DNF it. I had high expectation that didn't include anti Semitic language, blue terms for female genital, or (in my opinion) glorification and attempted eroticisation of male rape. No thanks.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cody

    An entertaining trifle about chicks with dicks. I started three Self's since, and haven't made it past 10-pages. Will investigate his 'serious' work at some point, but likely not during this administration. An entertaining trifle about chicks with dicks. I started three Self's since, and haven't made it past 10-pages. Will investigate his 'serious' work at some point, but likely not during this administration.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Gregor

    amusing in parts.

  27. 4 out of 5

    The Carrion Librarian

    This book (deservedly) has a lot of one star reviews but somehow what all of them fail to mention is the TREMENDOUS amount of slurs there are in this short book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Pippa

    Slightly jealous....

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ripley

    I bought this book after reading a brief description about it on a list of "Weirdest Books You Will Ever Read". I am a big fan of strange and bizarre. But I think I am desensitized to bizarre because I didn't find this one all that strange. Carol is a married woman who quickly married a man she barely knew and slept with after a drunken binge in college. Things quickly fell apart. Dan was an alcoholic, their sex life was minimal, and she was extremely unhappy with her life. Self exploration led h I bought this book after reading a brief description about it on a list of "Weirdest Books You Will Ever Read". I am a big fan of strange and bizarre. But I think I am desensitized to bizarre because I didn't find this one all that strange. Carol is a married woman who quickly married a man she barely knew and slept with after a drunken binge in college. Things quickly fell apart. Dan was an alcoholic, their sex life was minimal, and she was extremely unhappy with her life. Self exploration led her discover a nub growing amidst her lady bits. She learns that she is growing a penis. Bull is a big rugby player who is also unsatisfied with his life. He wants to be a sports journalist more than anything but the publication he currently works for has him going to cabarets and interviewing comedians more than anything else. After another viewing another excruciating performance and briefly having words with the comedian, Bull wakes up the next day to discover a prepubescent vagina has developed in the knee pit of his left leg. Upon going to his physician, Dr Margoulies, the doctor, who is a sex addict, falls in love with the vagina and begins pursuing Bull. From the description I read I should have understood the nature of this book. Both stories in this book run rampant with sex and very graphic descriptions of sexual acts. The first story I read rather quickly because it is a woman's journey of self discovery and the reader almost feels sorry for her. The second story was not as engaging and the characters were not very likeable, especially Alan Margoulies. If you enjoy graphic sex in your novels and strange storylines then this is the book for you. I personally didn't like it as much as I thought I would. I would give this one a 3 out of 5. I may have given it less but I did enjoy the first story, the ending in particular. It was an easy and pretty quick read. Besides misplaced anatomy this wasn't even close to one of the weirdest books I've ever read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Evelyn

    Cock and Bull are two back to back novellas that portray a narrator's satirical point of view in a most bizarre situation, and explores what could happen if they one day grew the opposite sexes' genitalia on their own bodies. In this sense, Cock features an abused woman who appears trapped in a dismal marriage. The lady grows a fully functional penis, enabling her to become more physically masculine than her waste of space husband as she proceeds to rape and dominate him. Bull on the other hand, Cock and Bull are two back to back novellas that portray a narrator's satirical point of view in a most bizarre situation, and explores what could happen if they one day grew the opposite sexes' genitalia on their own bodies. In this sense, Cock features an abused woman who appears trapped in a dismal marriage. The lady grows a fully functional penis, enabling her to become more physically masculine than her waste of space husband as she proceeds to rape and dominate him. Bull on the other hand, sees a man grow a fully functional vagina behind his knee which is then raped by his doctor, and lo and behold, the man becomes pregnant shortly afterwards. Still with me?! Both novellas are told in Self's somewhat juvenile and utterly pretentious manner as the book aims to shock and gross out the reader, far more than it tries to offer any interesting commentary on the overall gender role reversal theme. Interesting concept, sloppily executed but weird enough to keep me reading until the end.

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