Thursday, April 23, 2009

La Chambre de l'acide

I finished reading another Irvine Welsh book today, The Acid House.

This book is different from the other books I've read by him. Instead of a novel, it's a collection of short stories and a novella called A Smart Cunt. (This is not talking about female genitalia. This term shows up often in Welsh, look it up!)

Welsh gets to explore many types of storytelling here. From fantasies that involve God turning an angry, down-on-his-luck young man into a bluebottle housefly, science fiction about a woman keeping her husband's head alive in cryogenic fluid while she has an affair, twisted tales like a man having an affair to spite someone, only to discover the woman was a man who'd had a sex change, to more ordinary tales.

The stories range from two pages to quite a few. (One four-page story is actually four one-page stories about sexual frustration.)

One I found myself particularly enjoyable was called Disnae Matter. It was only two pages and was written in Welsh's standard spelling of the Edinburgh dialect. I read it aloud after getting off of work (with no audience). It told the story of a man and his wife and child going to Disney World in Florida, and how he almost made an employee (possibly dressed as Winnie-the-Pooh) lose his job.

Welsh tends to use many recurring themes. You can sympathize with and sometimes relate to his characters, but they always have something about them you wouldn't agree with. Many lead characters are drug addicts (usually heroin or cocaine). And his stories take place in the same fictional version of Edinburgh. Characters from one book appear in another. Spud from Trainspotting is in A Smart Cunt. This happens in his other books, too.

Ah, well. This was another fun one, and I got some nice reactions from co-workers. A manager asked to see what I was reading, and I let her look at it. She opened it to a sexual-ish scene, and exclaimed, "Jared! You're reading PORN!"

Well, that's that, then. Currently, I've no other Irvine Welsh books on my reading list... Open to suggestions here, folks.

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