Title: The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs
Author: Irvine Welsh
Page Count/Review Word Count: 439
Welsh is back on fine form here, and while he has written better (Marabou Stork Nightmares might well be an undiscovered modern classic), this still makes for a fantastic read. And, like most of Welsh’s work, it’s difficult to stop reading it, once the story has absorbed you – in fact, I read this as part of my 24-Hour Dyslexia Action charity readathon, and reading it from cover to cover in one sitting wasn’t a problem. It’s just the kind of story that does that to you.
Loosely speaking, it follows the story of a typical Irvine Welsh character called Danny Skinner, a “hard-drinking, womanising officer” at Edinburgh’s Department of Environmental Health. When the department is joined by a calm, mild-mannered model railway enthusiast called Brian Kibby, Skinner finds himself getting agitated, treating Kibby as a nemesis even though he hasn’t really done anything except for being a living representation of everything that Skinner hates.
Then, and with a sprinkling of style, something strange begins to happen – the two seem to share a strange link, and Kibby starts to suffer from bad hangovers and comedowns despite never touching a drop of the stuff, while Skinner can hit the town with no ill effects the morning after. It’s almost like black slapstick, like black humour – humour about dark subjects like death and mental illness, as opposed to humour by, for and about black people. I’m not a racist, I promise.
And, as usual, Welsh writes in his traditional style, which includes plenty of Scots dialect, plenty of drinking, drug use and debauchery, and his use of profanities and an indented hyphen to signify dialogue. – Kinda like this ya radge c**t.
This can occasionally make it difficult to follow the story, and your brain can start processing narrative as dialogue and vice versa – that said, Welsh’s writing tends to flow from one paragraph to another, and so the odds are that if you have to concentrate to understand something, it’s probably intentional.
And that’s one of the things with Welsh’s writing – it grows on you, and you can re-read his stories and see subtle undertones that weren’t there on your first read. I’ve only read this novel once, and so I’m probably not the fairest of judges, but I have a feeling that that’s the case here, too. Perhaps I’ll re-read it myself at some point, but I need to finish the rest of Welsh’s books first. So the real question is, fancy a race?