on December 2, 2000
Without a doubt one of the funniest works anyone will ever read, know it is not for the judgmental or the too terribly sane. The humor and ironies not to mention the writing style and the translation of lower-class Glasgow speech into written text will entertain for hours.
The intricately linked stories, really anecdotes, off handed poetry and the genuine angst felt throughout the book, laced with deadpan humor and some of the most uproariously funny situations I can ever recall make for a fantastic escape from the everyday world.
The characters are vivid and true to their own characters throughout the book. The local and behaviors exhibited by everyone depicted are delivered with such wry comedy and wit it is no wonder this book was so well received. Again, this is not humor for children or anyone with issues with profanity or adult situations, be forewarned. It is, however, unexpectedly amusing and gritty to an extreme.
Enter the world of Eurotrash and gain some insight into the drug-singed minds of those depicted in The Acid House. You will never forget your journey there.
on July 12, 2000
Ah didnae think ah'd like this eht fist...
But these stories are pock-marked all over with irony, humour and the infallible bad language and vernacular put into use by Irvine Welsh, author of that classic (which I won't name here). This book should be read without that other book looming behind it with a knife to it's back.
This is a good read, and that should be enough. But there's people out there who think it could be better, that Welshie disnae have a grasp of the short story, etc, etc... but they're all missing the point something chronic. How often do we get the lives of Eurotrash thrust into our face? Not many of us get to witness first hand a drug raid, or indeed, a baby with a dirty mind... but herein lies Welsh's appeal. See, it's funny. It's so sick that it's funny...situations we'll never get into ourselves. It'll make you squirm and grin in revulsion. Come on people, admit it to yourself. You only ever read Welsh for the kick. Don't kid yourself about what is deemed to be literature or Booker Prize material or politically correct... just enjoy it and stop your whining.
on July 10, 2000
Irvine Welsh novels are definitely not for everyone. He is the "champion" of the poor, uneducated urban junkies of Edinburgh (Scotland). Since he writes in the first person, his books are, in effect, stories about junkies as told by junkies. The language is vile, the stories are frequently disgusting and depraved. Yet all this shock treatment is not gratuitous; all the stories strike me as oh-too-realistic, as if Mr. Welsh has lived in the gutter with these misfits. After the shock wears off, one is generally left with a feeling of compassion for these poor addicts (there but the grace of God...).
The Acid House differs somewhat from the author's other novels. It is actually a collection of short stories, plus a novella. While remaining true to general cause (ie, the plight of the junkie), some stories are rather weak (fortunately, these stories are very short indeed). Others are most memorable, with very clever endings (..I refer you to Irvine Welsh's masterpiece, Filth, for a really good ending!).
So The Acid House is the perfect read for Irvine Welsh fans. For others, be prepared for vile language, and sometimes incomprehensible language (..Scottish dialect). And parents, don't even THINK about letting your kids touch this or any other Irvine Welsh book.
on January 17, 2000
The Acid House is distilled Welsh. 100% proof. At a time where short story writing in Scotland is of a very high standard it is sad to report that Welsh has no mastery of the short story form unlike his fellow young Scots James Meek, Alison Kennedy or Gordon Legge, or the old master James Kelman.
This collection is very disappointing, and marks the first step in the inevitable downward spiral after the wonderful Trainspotting. However, from here on in, his books just get poorer and poorer.
Some stories are very clever (The Granton Star Cause, Lisa's mum meets the Queen mum, Disnae matter). Others are bereft of originality. VAT 69, for example, has the same plot twist as Roald Dahl's classic William and Mary. This then taints your reading of the other stories, because you are left wondering if the idea can be sourced elsewhere. (Granton Star Cause is a filthy minded, but very funny, Metamorphosis, for example).
There is some very good Welsh in here, but the most symptomatic of his subsequent work is the longest piece - a novella - that ultimately, like Welsh himself, does not last the pace.
If you've not read him before, try Trainspotting. If you have and have liked him while there is something to enjoy prepare to be disappointed.
on March 8, 1999
I have very mixed reactions to the writing of Irvine Welsh. On the one hand, his use of Scottish dialect is astonishing and delightful, and his humor is unsurpassed. He is also remarkable for bringing to literary light a section of modern society (Scottish disaffected youth) that has been largely neglected. On the other hand, while he obviously realizes that his characters are pathetic in the extreme, he work doesn't seem to be informed by any essentially superior point of view. He tags these folks as pathetic losers, but doesn't seem to have any clue as to what they should be doing instead. And perhaps that is the point. The best illustration of the vacuous nature of these people's lives comes from the narrator of the longest (and best) piece in the book ("A Smart C*nt"). He is obviously a person for whom the phrase "Get a Life" was coined, and he does: he is addicted to reading biographies. He does get a life, in fact, many lives via his reading. He just doesn't have one of his own.
A fun collection. Obviously, in a work like this some pieces are better than others. But it is definitely worth taking a shot at. I have been inspired to go on to read TRAINSPOTTING (which I now am, and which I am loving also).
on February 11, 1999
This book deisappointed the hell out of me. In every piece Welsh seems so overly obsessed with with surrealism, and possibly more importantly than that, shock value and twists. This obsession has clouded the real thematic punch I know Welsh can deliver, example being "Eurotrash." A beautiful setup, fine characterization, even a hint of a true, well constructed epiphany that is completely understated by the main character's final realization about his lover. I didn't feel he tried for anything; the decisions were made for him. Despite all of this, the novella that closes the book is so well crafted and so vivid in its imagery and precise in its character construction that it saves the book altogether and wnables me to issue the rating of "2." Had the rest of the stories been executed like this one, "The Acid House" would deserve the five many other reviewers feel it does. As it is, however, there are too few redeeming qualities to warrant it.
on March 24, 1998
In comparison with the majority of authors, comtemporary or otherwise, whose works I have read, the stories portrayed by Welsh in 'The Acid House' are done so with amazing talent. It was with delight, after despairing of ever again finding a bit of literature to satisfy my boredom or appeal to my senses, that I was suddenly captivated and totally enthralled by Welsh's flair, unpolished diction, perfectly familiar subject matter, clever humour, and wonderfully cynical insight. Here's an example of the language for your discretion:
There was a shuddering bang and Whitworth seemed to vanish into the house. For an instant, it was like some kind of theatrical illusion, as if he was never there. In that split second, I thought I'd been the victim of an orchestrated wind-up between Gal and Tony Whitworth. I even started laughing. Then I looked into the lobby. Tony Whitworth's convulsing body lay there. What once was his face was now a broken, crushed mass of blood and grey matter.
In any case, to read this book is to take the risk of being drawn into the inescapable trap that Welsh craftily sets for his readers and to be caught in it right to the end of the book, at which point you're left in a sort of withdrawal that can't be any worse mentally than breaking a junk habit.
on December 30, 1996
Welsh, having delivered the standard bearing 'Trainspotting' has moved onwards and upwards with a bizarre, overt
collection of short stories.
Each story in turn is delivered with a punch: not the merely a routine "slap on the cheek", but a full-on fisted delivery to
the belly, leaving one winded, surprised, shocked and in wonderment of what coexists within the author's mind. The
arrangement of stories allows the reader to move from black to white and return to black via Welsh's vast and colourful
palatte of that which surfaces from the tide of human suffering.
There is something for everyone: love, passion, hate, transexuality, alcohol and drugs, the latter of which seems to be
becoming Welsh's trademark subject. In comparison, Ian Banks may do well indeed by haunting the reader with descriptive plot line and
narrative, but Welsh dispenses with tradition by cutting to the chase before you even have a chance to start your engines.
on June 23, 2001
Wow,what can I say about the talents of Welsh as a writer...Start reading and you 'll find yourself immersed in a bizarre world of surreal fantasy, scathing wit and black humour that is typically Welshian. You 'll find yourself willing to forgo sleep in order to keep reading and you'll be screaming for more when the book is finished.This writing is trully addictive! As a whole the collection revisits the by now familiar territory of working class slums,pubs and raves of Edinburgh and the themes of despair,violence, remorse and dead-end choices that inform so much of his writing,but it's always done with a brilliant, unexpected narrative twist that will leave you gaping at his genius.Not to mention the fact that some stories are downright exhilaratingly funny. The story "Where the debris meet the sea", for example, had me rocking with laughter.Need I say more? Buy a copy now!
on May 16, 2001
A young man loses his job, home, and girlfriend, meets God in the pub and turns into a household fly. This is a typical plot outline from this hilarious, disturbing, amoral collection of short stories. Welsh is unflinching in his portrayl of the dissafected working class Scotts, whos appetites for narcotic debauchery is as vigourous as their weather is dull.
Devoid of any tangible ethical stance, the gritty realism of these stories will speak for themselves. And speak they most certainly do with Welshs customary brilliant pen for transcribing the Scottish vernacular. The book sorely needs a glossary though; lines such as "wis ootay order", may estrange American eyes.
The richness and sheer impact of these stories, make them prime candidates for rereading in the tradition of those other fine writers on the British working classes, Orwell and Silitoe.