We asked for your opinions on the author of `Trainspotting'
Irvine Welsh: readers reply
Monday 17 June 1996
Welsh's media acolytes are fond of quoting Oscar Wilde: "There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book, only good or bad writing" - But Chris Maume was right to blow the gaff on Irvine Welsh and to point out that his writing has impressive but also appalling elements. The ham- fisted attempts to provide a credible context for the vivid drugs, violence, sex set pieces at which he excels, show that he lacks the courage of his vaunted "amoral" convictions. Look at how post-traumatic guilt affects the murderers and gang rapists in The Acid House and Marabou Stork Nightmares and see the anarchic one spectacularly pulling his punches. See how a mawkish family tragedy is wheeled on like a deus ex machina in Trainspotting to explain away Renton's self-destructive urges. It cuts no ice artistically, and should destroy the image of Welsh as a contemporary Camus.
Welsh is forever banging on about how much he is influenced by pop music. If Trainspotting was his Velvet Underground Banana album, bright and daring, then Ecstasy (correctly execrated by Chris Maume) is his Metal Machine Music; a numb, repetitive, cynical irritant.
Having not been able to put down Welsh's first offering Trainspotting, I was expecting an equally gripping sequel. The Acid House was, however, a disappointing follow-up. After the first story I had proclaimed myself a Welsh obsessive, but, like most fads, by the seventh I was bored. Like a lot of my peers, I had found Welsh's style fresh and innovative, although hard to translate at points. But I think that, like many of the "Britpop" bands with whom he is compared, Welsh is a one-hit wonder with all except the dedicated and fashionable few.
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