Friday, 17 July 2020

Book #58

Reheated Cabbage by Irvine Welsh

In Reheated Cabbage you can enjoy Christmas dinner with Begbie and discover how aliens addicted to Embassy Regal have Midlothian under surveillance. You will meet a husband who values a televised Hibs v Hearts game more than his wife's life and see two guys fighting over a beautiful girl agree - after a few pills and pints of lager - that their friendship is actually more important. And you will be delighted to welcome back 'Juice' Terry Lawson, and to watch what happens when he meets his old nemesis under the strobe-lights of a Miami Beach nightclub.

Here I am again, emerging from the dark pit of human iniquity and psychological torment which I willingly lower myself into when reading a Welsh novel. I’ve just read of the most insane, immoral, and mind-bending situations, I’ve come away muddled and mishandled, and yet I always fucking love it.

We have a collection of some of Welsh’s earlier short stories, each of them differing in tone, setting, and message, but all seeming somehow to be coated in the grime of the human condition. We see some old pals, including Begbie and Juice Terry, and meet some new absolutely mad folk who I’d love to see again.

Welsh always seems an expert in digging into the alpha-male psyche and showing us how his scoundrel’s brains work, whilst ripping the pish out them at the same time. Talking your wrecked wife into taking a shortcut over the train tracks so you won’t miss the Hibs game. Starting a scrap in the dentist’s office because you can’t believe this other guy shagged your ex last night. Cracking your sister’s new boyfriend on Christmas day because he hit you on the back to stop you from choking. It’s all fucking hilarious, but there’s some deep-rooted commentary there on male pride, which is worthwhile.

This had a similar feel to If You Liked School, You’ll Love Work, where some stories are hits and some are misses, but there’s a pervading sense of Welsh being experimental, and seeing where it gets him. This does involve smacking us with aliens who love a snout, and a dentist getting a hard on when he sees the inside of a woman’s mouth, but in the name of experimentation, it’s a great laugh.

A perfect wee injection of darkness and morbidity until we can read more Welsh. Mon then.