Filth Hardcover – Aug 11 1998
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Talk about truth in advertising! Irvine Welsh's novel about an evil Edinburgh cop is filthy enough to please the most crud-craving fans of his blockbuster debut, Trainspotting. Like Trainspotting, Filth matches its nastiness with a maniacal, deeply peeved sense of humor. Though one does feel the need to escape this train wreck of a narrative from time to time for a shower and some chamomile tea, just as often Welsh provokes a belly laugh with an extraordinarily perverse and cruelly funny set piece. Nicely violent turns of phrase litter the ghastly landscape of his tale.
Our hero, Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson, is a cross between Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant and John Belushi in Animal House. His task is to nab a killer who has brained the son of the Ghanaian ambassador, but bigoted Bruce is more urgently concerned with coercing sex from teenage Ecstasy dealers, planning vice tours of Amsterdam, and mulling over his lurid love life. He's also got a tapeworm, whose monologue is printed right down the middle of many pages. Here's one of this unusually articulate parasite's realizations: "My problem is that I seem to have quite a simple biological structure with no mechanism for the transference of all my grand and noble thoughts into fine deeds."
Welsh's real strength is comic tough talk and inventive slang. The murder mystery helps organize his tendency to sprawl, but the engine of his art is wry, harsh dialogue. At one point, his books hogged the entire top half of Scotland's Top Ten Bestsellers list--and half the buyers of Trainspotting had never bought a book before. The reason is not that Welsh is the best novelist who ever got short-listed for the Booker Prize. It is that he is that rarest of phenomena, an original voice. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Another scabrous, lurid, blackly comic novel from America's favorite Scottish enfant terrible, this one does for present-day Edinburgh what James Ellroy does for 1950s Los Angeles. Welsh begins with a detective's investigation into a murder?the death of a Ghanaian ambassador's son?and turns it into a vivid exploration of the detective's own twisted psyche and seedy milieu. Detective Bruce Robertson finds himself preoccupied not with the murder but with his own genital eczema, sadistic sexual antics involving any number of girlfriends and prostitutes, his increasingly chronic appetite for coke, alcohol and greasy fast food and, finally, the parasite that has taken up residence in his intestines. Welsh effectively plays off Robertson's bilious narration with the coolly insistent voice of another entity?the tapeworm, who seems to be the repository of Robertson's childhood memories and what is left of his superego?as the detective spins out of control, wasting himself in increasingly risky games of erotic asphyxiation with one of his mistresses (ex-wife of another detective), machinations to undermine his colleagues, and misanthropic rage: "Criminals, spastics, niggers, strikers, thugs, I don't fucking well care, it all adds up to one thing: something to smash." Even for readers who have mastered Welsh's Scots dialect, such an eloquently nasty narrator can be exhausting. As in the past, Welsh himself sometimes seems rather compromised as a satirist by the glee he takes in his characters' repulsiveness. Yet if this hypnotic chronicle of moral and psychological ruin (funnier and far more accessible than Welsh's last full-length novel, Marabou Stork Nightmares) fails to charm a wide readership, it will not disappoint devotees. Editor, Gerald Howard; author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
This seems to annoy and confuse many readers still virgins to Edinburgh inner city slang. However, hope is in site. Look up "snogging" or "the craft", or generalize with "Scottish slang" on most internet search engines, and you'll be moving along nicely in no time. In step with Shakespeare, Hemmingway, Joyce and Salinger, Welsh shapes, moves, and often rips violently, the English language. Sure, a little research is needed, but if you're hungry for a reading experience the intellectual equivalent of a drunken fist fight at 2:30am in a strip club parking lot, Welsh is your man, and Filth may very well be your novel. If you're content with linguistic tea biscuits and verbal aromatherapy, I hear Oprah's got some lovely book ideas.
Welsh's "Filth" is a novel that proves this world is hardly perfect. In his creation, Welsh brings us the misanthrop Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson of the Royal Lothian Constabulary (the police force that covers central eastern Scotland, including Edinburgh). On the onset, Robertson seems like a policeman who's probably been on the force a few years, seen enough things to make him a tad-bit pessimistic about the world, but ultimately knows what he's doing. But very quickly does the reader find out that Robertson is anything but the model policeman. Robertson, who narrates the whole story using his Scottish dialect, sprinkled here and there with slang he picked up from London, is the kind of policeman that would make ACLU laywers go gonzo with lawsuits. Robertson deliberately makes his police hours--in this case, the murder of the son of a African diplomat--his own hours, filled with long overtimes consisting of trying to do things with as many prostitutes and stray women as possible, while his own wife has left him.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Well written, captivating and the protagonist had me right up until the end. I don't normally do novels, no time or patience to get into the characters, but this one had me riveted... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Donna Gray
Amazing book. Main Character is one of my favorite I have ever read.Published 17 months ago by K.R.E
I would definitely recommend this to a fan of Irvine Welsh, it is magnificently gritty and hilarious. Read morePublished on Aug. 26 2013 by Thomas de Gruchy
Trainspotting is possibly my favorite novel of all time. Porno, although not as good was still an excellent read... but Filth was horrible. Read morePublished on Jan. 20 2009 by Matthew Gervais
No contest. Pure filth. I felt like I had been kicked in the kidneys by the end of it. Never had such an intense physical reaction to a book before. Read morePublished on Sept. 11 2006 by Mel
Welsh's very best, in my opinion.
This novel takes us through the miserable life of a very dislikable lead character. Read more
The entire first chapter is about a fart, I think. I had to try to read it over and over so many times because of the incomprehensible scottish slang. Read morePublished on June 20 2003
While this book at times is basically shock value.the over all ambition of the novel is to profile a particular type of person who has lost all morality as a result of the life... Read morePublished on May 15 2002
I recently read Burroughs' Cities of the Red Night, so this is no longer the most disgusting thing I've read. But it still is the most satisfyingly filthy book I can think of. Read morePublished on March 27 2002 by Gordon Smith