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Filthby Irvine Welsh
Synopses & Reviews
From the author of the international sensation Trainspotting, here is a novel that actually lives up to its name.
With Christmas season in the offing, Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson of Edinburgh's finest is gearing up socially looking forward to his annual week of sex and drugs in Amsterdam. There are some sizable flies in the ointment, though: a missing wife and child, a nagging cocaine habit, some painful below-the-belt eczema, and a string of demanding extramarital affairs. The last thing Robertson needs is a messy, racially fraught murder, even if it means overtime and the opportunity to clinch the promotion he craves. Then there's that nutritionally demanding, and conscience nagging, parasite living in his gut. Yes, things are going badly, but in an Irvine Welsh novel nothing is ever so bad that it can't get a whole lot worse.
In Bruce Robertson, Welsh has created one of the most compelling, misanthropic characters in contemporary fiction, and surrounded him in a dark and disturbing and often scabrously funny novel about the abuse of everything and everybody.
"Welsh writes with such vile, relentless intensity that he makes Louis-Ferdinand Ce´line, the French master of defilement, look like Little Miss Muffet." Courtney Weaver, The New York Times Book Review
"Welsh's often-captivating novel opens and closes with stingingly specific deaths and is most powerful at the midpoint between them. Nominally, Filth is a murder mystery that kicks off with the first death, and the stabilizing, low-maintenance frame of an unsolved killing frees Welsh to write his version of what makes and drives a life. This is the fascination around which Filth circles, whose pages pit the unstable character Bruce Robertson against the incompleteness of a murder." Kurt Jensen, The Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review
"The author of Trainspotting (1996) offers a novel with a politically correct twist, a philosophical intestinal worm, and a loathsome protagonist....[Bruce's] defilements are unrepentant and almost unbearably relentless, until the surprise ending reveals that nothing is what it seems. Those who make it through Bruce's gruesome abuses and the difficult Scottish dialect will be left with something to think about." Booklist
"Political, dangerous, and more important...a completely original, hilarious, and deeply affecting attack on the authoritarian mind." Details
"My problem with Filth is its lopsidedness. More than 300 pages are given over to Robertson's repetitive rant, which is, I admit, often viciously funny. But the insights into his character that explain all of this are dispensed with in less than 50. In a rush, one implausible episode piggybacks on another. It's all so crudely recounted and preposterous with tales of mistaken identities and people buried alive or struck by lightning that it seems as if Welsh is spontaneously plotting as he's writing. But if you have an appreciation for gallows humor and unrepentant nihilism, as I do, you'll probably find Filth a fun read. And the ending, in which the parasite gets the last gasping word, might have made Beckett smile." Daniel Reitz, Salon.com
"The relentlessly confrontational book comes to raucous life in its more abusive and violent scenes....But it founders when Welsh gives his loutish antihero unconvincing moments of reflection....Some marvelous writing, but little of substance that Welsh hasn't already done better, notably in Trainspotting and the superb Marabou Stork Nightmares. One wonders if he has written himself out." Kirkus Reviews
"Filth is far more coherent, consistent and better paced. Trainspotting was a collection of connecting anecdotes; Filth is a bona fide novel with a plot. Trainspotting was funny on the surface; Filth is far more sombre....It is a graphically vivid portrayal of class betrayal, misanthropy, and the corruption that comes with unchecked power, revealing far more about human passions than at first obvious and proving that Welsh is no one-book-wonder and far more deft at his art than is often given credit for." Barcelona Review
"The corrupt Edinburgh cop-antihero of Irvine Welsh's best novel since Trainspotting is an addictive personality in another sense: so appallingly powerful is his character that it's hard to put the book down....[T]he rapid-fire rhythm and pungent dialect of the dialogue carry the reader relentlessly toward the literally filthy denouement." The Village Voice Literary Supplement (Selected as one of "Our 25 Favorite Books of 1998")
"Another scabrous, lurid, blackly comic novel from America's favorite Scottish enfant terrible, this one does for present-day Edinburgh what James Ellroy does for 1950s Los Angeles....Even for readers who have mastered Welsh's Scots dialect, such an eloquently nasty narrator can be exhausting. As in the past, Welsh himself sometimes seems rather compromised as a satirist by the glee he takes in his characters' repulsiveness. Yet if this hypnotic chronicle of moral and psychological ruin (funnier and far more accessible than Welsh's last full-length novel, Marabou Stork Nightmares) fails to charm a wide readership, it will not disappoint devotees." Publishers Weekly
With the Christmas season upon him, Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson of Edinburgh's finest is gearing up socially--kicking things off with a week of sex and drugs in Amsterdam.
There are some sizable flies in the ointment, though: a missing wife and child, a nagging cocaine habit, some painful below-the-belt eczema, and a string of demanding extramarital affairs. The last thing Robertson needs is a messy, racially fraught murder, even if it means overtime--and the opportunity to clinch the promotion he craves. Then there's that nutritionally demanding (and psychologically acute) intestinal parasite in his gut. Yes, things are going badly for this utterly corrupt tribune of the law, but in an Irvine Welsh novel nothing is ever so bad that it can't get a whole lot worse. . . .In Bruce Robertson Welsh has created one of the most compellingly misanthropic characters in contemporary fiction, in a dark and disturbing and often scabrously funny novel about the abuse of everything and everybody.
"Welsh writes with a skill, wit and compassion that amounts to genius. He is the best thing that has happened to British writing in decades."--Sunday Times [London] "[O]ne of the most significant writers in Britain. He writes with style, imagination, wit, and force, and in a voice which those alienated by much current fiction clearly want to hear."--Times Literary Supplement "Welsh writes with such vile, relentless intensity that he makes Louis-Ferdinand Céline, the French master of defilement, look like Little Miss Muffet. "--Courtney Weaver, The New York Times Book Review "The corrupt Edinburgh cop-antihero of Irvine Welsh's best novel since Trainspotting is an addictive personality in another sense: so appallingly powerful is his character that it's hard to put the book down....[T]he rapid-fire rhythm and pungent dialect of the dialogue carry the reader relentlessly toward the literally filthy denouement. "--Village Voice Literary Supplement, "Our 25 Favorite Books of 1998" "Welsh excels at making his trash-spewing bluecoat peculiarly funny and vulnerable--and you will never think of the words 'Dame Judi Dench' in the same way ever again. [
About the Author
IRVINE WELSH is the author of the novels Trainspotting and Marabou Stork Nightmares and the story collections The Acid House and Ecstasy. His most recent novel is Glue. He lives in Edinburgh, London, and Amsterdam.
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