Top 3 Irvine Welsh books
Dive into these must-reads to prepare for the Scottish author’s latest stomach-churner.
Marabou Stork Nightmares (1995)
The predatory African bird is a metaphor for all the badness in (comatose protagonist) Roy Strang’s life. The narrative moves between his memories and hallucinations as he reflects on the cycle of violence – from his abuse as a child to a brutal gang-rape he is accomplice to – that has been a constant in his life.
A tapeworm inside the protagonist, gaining steadily in size, is one of the prettier images in this novel. Bipolar Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson is a rabid substance-abuser who rapes young girls and gorges on junk food. As he barrels through the Scottish underworld in search of a killer, he is sinking into depravity. Dear sweet James McAvoy turns feral anti-hero in the film adaptation, which gets its outside-Britain release this month.
Set in economically depressed ’80s Scotland and relayed in a jaunty Edinburgh brogue, Welsh’s debut collection of short stories about a group of smack addicts was bound to be a cult classic (with or without Danny Boyle’s 1996 film adaptation). His darkly comic characters flout numbing suburban mores even as they suffer greatly for their fringe-living.
Irvine Welsh’s ninth novel, The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins (Jonathan Cape), is out this month