Just finished CRIME, the latest by Welsh. I was initially a little bit afraid to read this one, which is why I waited the very long 8 months or so for it to transition from Hardcover to QP. Welsh never pulls any punches and I think the review I read of the book just prior to its release had me a little worried – child porn ring, sexually maladjusted 10 year old girl… you get it?
Well, if Takashi comes ’round these parts soon enough I’ll be going back and kicking 2008 Shawn in the nuts for ever doubting Mr. Welsh’s style and grace – Crime is, I think, Welsh’s best work and an incredible read. The sheer volume of human emotion and understanding that went into this is staggering. I read the first 150 pages in about three days and then steamrolled through the last 160 or so in a couple of intense and unrelenting hours (I was supposed to be lying down to take a nap in the middle of a week with no fucking sleep, thank you very much) that saw me laugh out loud, weep openly and fight the paranoid tingling of real, tangible fear in my back and shoulders. All this from a book you ask? Really?
Well if this is uncommon to you maybe you should be reading more Irvine Welsh, eh?
Crime is a good example of something I love about Welsh – he takes minor or supporting characters from his previous works and expands them when you least expect it. Lead character Ray Lennox first appeared in 1995’s FILTH as a supporting character to that book’s lead Bruce Robertson’s spiral into tapeworm-enhanced madness. In Filth Lennox primarily did what all good supporting characters in crooked cop novels do – snorted coke and displayed his moustache prominently. In Crime we get to know the real Ray Lennox (now sans-stache), and as a big time Welsh fan I have to say Ray is one of his most developed, living, breathing characters to date. Not to call any of his other creations shabby – this is simply a new level. I buzzed with Welsh’s (through Ray) insights into this crazy thing called life we all share and came out the other side a better person for reading this.
It is however his darkest work. The subject matter here is grim and there’s no sugar coating it. But what I love about Welsh is somehow he never steps outside the bounds of good taste. Sure, he might side-step it, or perhaps set it on fire, but his writing is so intuitive and real that the reader gets pulled in and can see the situations, good or bad, the way the people ‘living’ them do. Hence you get to walk in another’s shoes. I feel like Welsh teaches tolerance and patience, good manners and honor. I also feel like he gives me new unconscious apparatus to divine and navigate this time I have here every time I read one of his books. Insights into the way people work and the systems of the world.
Crime is dark, twisted and at times wincing, but it is also tender, beautiful and one hell of a read.
Another triumph for Mr. Welsh! Thank You kindly sir!!!