Synopses & Reviews
The acclaimed author of the best-selling cult classic Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh has been hailed as "the best thing that has happened to British writing in a decade" (London Sunday Times). Marabou Stork Nightmares is a brilliant (and literal) head trip of a book that brings us into the wildly active, albeit coma-beset mind of Roy Strang, whose hallucinatory quest to eradicate the evil predator/scavenger marabou stork keeps being interrupted by grisly memories of the social and family dysfunction that brought him to this state. It is the sort of lethally funny cocktail of pathos, violence, and outrageous hilarity that only Irvine Welsh can pull off.
"Irvine Welsh belongs to the new wave of Scottish writers, including last year's Booker prize winner James Kelman. Hailed as the chief scribe of Britain's youth culture, Welsh broke all the rules of the literary establishment in his previous novel, Trainspotting, and story collection, The Acid House. In Nightmares, Welsh goes even further, employing multiple narratives, flashbacks, a variety of typefaces, and Scottish dialect, to tell the life story of Roy Strang, a soccer thug in a coma in an Edinburgh hospital room. As Roy drifts through different levels of consciousness, he relives the sordid past that brought him to this state, suffers interruptions from nurses and visitors, and travels around South Africa in his hallucinations where he and a friend hunt the marabou stork, a scavenger-predator that represents the inner demon Roy must kill. A difficult book that strains the reader to find any sympathy for its low-life characters, it is nevertheless brilliant in its description of the brutality of working-class life in Scotland." Reviewed by Daniel Weiss, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
"For anyone who gets high on language, this book is a fantastic trip...a real tour de force." Madison Smartt Bell, Spin
"Imbuing Roy's sordid story with compassion and complexity, Welsh creates a scorching tale of despair and, perhaps, redemption." Joy Press, Details
"In a brief time, [Irvine Welsh] has emerged as a writer of scope, imagination, and a savage brand of compassion. Long may he rave." John Purim, Boston Phoenix
"Extremely funny...as clever as Alasdair Gray, as elegant as Jeff Torrington, as passionate as James Kelman, Welsh has got it all." Tibor Fischer
"It becomes clear that the African sections of the book represent a conscious attempt by the unconscious Strang to escape the horror of the present and the recent past; as a consequence, the hunt for the Marabou stork is drained of any meaning other than the symbolic....But such is the breadth of the writer's ambition that this weakness is easily forgiven. Strang's attempts to create a heroic persona for himself from the comic books and films of his youth are placed in the context of a culture of viciousness, thwarted desire, self-abuse, and sexual violence, and if one of Welsh's many fictional experiments has failed him, it would be churlish to complain: writing of this ferocity and authenticity is rare in contemporary British fiction....He writes with style, imagination, wit and force, and in a voice which those alienated by much current fiction clearly want to hear." Nick Hornby, The Times Literary Supplement
"Welsh's talent...is striking....Welsh's nightmares make compelling reading but nae fir the faint of heart." Booklist
"As the novel's multiple layers of reality develop, they come to feel almost like multimedia: Strang's reminiscences often wrenching in their emotional complexity and his allegorical nightmares are occasionally interspersed with the voices of nurses, doctors, and family members as they try to talk him back to consciousness. It's a device that works well, offsetting some of the novel's more predictable elements: the ferociously gritty depiction of working-class life in Thatcher's England, and a surprisingly politically correct feminist denouement. When all of its realities come into play, however, Welsh's Maribou Stork Nightmares attains an eye-opening synergy, casting an idiosyncratic light on the surreal states in between life and death." Salon.com
About the Author
Irvine Welsh is the author of Trainspotting, Ecstacy, Filth (soon to be a major motion picture), Glue, Porno, and Crime, among other works. Welsh is also producing movies and writing screenplays. A native of Edinburgh, he lives in Chicago and Miami.