Saturday, June 06, 2015

Fiction: The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins by Irvine Welsh

Irvine Welsh is not an acquired taste. But no matter what he’s writing about, he is consistent. He draws his images and ideas with big, bold lines liberally lubricated with profanity. If you liked or loved Welsh’s previous dozen novels -- Trainspotting, Filth, Glue and Skagboys among them -- then you will also like The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins (Doubleday) which is as smart, dark and nasty as any of his previous novels.

Now all of that is a relief, actually. When I heard that The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins was set in America, I’d feared that, nearly two decades after Trainspotting, Welsh’s debut novel, the author might have mellowed. But fear not. Welsh is as sharply observational in his latest novel as he has been throughout his career. Only this time, Welsh brings his laser eye to Miami and tells a tale that is one part bizarre crime fiction, one part celebrity culture observation and one part pure new world madness.

A Miami Beach-based personal trainer disarms a gunman and, overnight, she is cast as a hero. But the “crazed gunman” turns out to have been the victim of child abuse and the men he was chasing are serial pedophiles. When one of the pedophiles attacks someone, the hero’s transformation to villain is complete

Welsh tells his story with his usual verve and dark humor, but his sharp observations on American culture create an almost transparent sub-plot and, in so many ways, it becomes quickly apparent that The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins might be Welsh's best book yet.

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