lrvine Welsh talks to Sue Wilson about getting literature out of the bookshops and closer to something more exciting culture as it’s actually happening.

still don‘t really feel happy about the idea of being a writer.’ says lrvine Welsh. The same lrvine Welsh whose new short-story collection The Acid House is about to hit the bookstands. barely seven months after his debut novel. 'li'ui/isponing. a picaresdue. gut-wrenching trawl through lidinburgh‘s junkie subculture. While critics tip and down the country were scrabbling tor the superlatives over that lirst book. he was linish- ing his second novel and is already well under way with the third. ‘I don‘t really like the book as a medium.‘ he says. ‘but [just keep getting loads ol ideas.' Welsh‘s deep-seated ambivalence about the form in which he has tor the moment ~ chosen to work. his street—smart scepticism about the el‘ticacy ol the printed word. is perhaps the key to the challenging. ol'ten disturbing. power of his writing. It‘s an attitude manifested most obviously in his l‘avoured t‘ictional milieu the depressed. druggy. dead-end world ol‘ Britain's ‘underclass‘. where poverty. powerlessness. casual violence and the absence of better prospects are. for many people. facts of life as basic as breathing. l‘acts‘ which render contem- porary l‘iction‘s dominant concerns and convert— tions -- romantic love. redemption. moral conundrmns. sexual/ emotional crises. quests for identity cruelly irrelevant. 'l‘hough Welsh is by no means the tirst writer to set about trashing bourgeois artistic preoccupations. the pace. punch and pungeucy oi his writing. underpinned by his rcl‘usal. at once brutal and mischievous. to allow his charac- ters. his readcrs or himself any out. produce the cshilaratiug. unsettling slap ol genuine originality

The stories in The xlt'n/ House reveal an extension ot‘ Welsh‘s imaginative and stylistic range -

The pace, punch and pungency of his writing is underpinned by 'his brutal and mischievous

easy ways

the scll—pitying Boab (‘oylc meets (iod in a (‘anonmills pub and is turned into a bluebottle: (‘oco Bryce struck by lightning while tripping in l’ilton and swaps souls with a new-born baby; Madonna. Kylie Minogue. Victoria Principal and Kim Basingcr drool over magazine pin-ups ot‘ l.eith removal men. But the basic source or his writings t’ei'ocioiis impact remains his relent- less. gimlct—cycd locus on the ugliest aspects of contemporary urban existence. be they the symptoms ol heroin withdrawal or the deluunanising el'i'ects oi social and economic deprivation.

'()ne of the things I‘m interested in is that when people are a bit vulnerable and a bit fucked up. they tend to come into contact with other

refusal to allow his characters, his readers or himself any easy ways out.


The List 25 February—l0 March 169411