Monday, 9 August 2010

"Reheated Cabbage" by Irvine Welsh

Year of Publication: 2009
Number of Pages: 276 pages
Genre: Short stories, comedy, social realism, fantasy

Summary: This book is a collection of seven short stories and one novella mostly set in and around Edinburgh, Scotland. In the first story "A Fault on the Line" a man beieves that getting back in time to watch a Hearts versus Hibs soccer match on television is more important than his partner's life.
In "Catholic Guilt (You Know You Love It)" a homophobic man finds himself subjected to bizarre poetic justice in the afterlife.
In "Elspeth's Boyfriend", peace on Earth and goodwill to all is in notably short supply when the psychotic Frank Begbie (star of Welsh's most famous novel Trainspotting) turns up at his parents' for Christmas dinner with the family and his sister's new boyfriend.
In "Kissing and Making Up", a man has a violent encounter outside a strip bar.
In "The Rosewell Incident", aliens from a distant planet enlist the aid of Scottish hooligans to take over the Earth.
In "State of the Party", a trip to a party while tripping on LSD results in two men trying to dispose of a body.
In "Victor Spoils", two good friends fight over the same woman.
In "I Am Miami", a bitter, retired headteacher from Edinburgh sees a chance for revenge on his hated ex-pupils when he encounters a couple of them in Miami.

Opinions: With the exception of the final novella, "I Am Miami", all the other stories in the books were previously published in now out of print anthologies and obscure fanzines and other periodicals between 1994 and 2000. As a result the book is very similar to Welsh's first anthology of stories The Acid House (1994), as well as Trainspotting (1993) and the final story serves as a follow up to the novel Glue (2001). If you've read Welsh before you know what you're getting into with this book, plenty of sex, drugs and violence served up with plenty of dark humour. Welsh tends to write in the first person with phonetically rendered Scottish dialect (an typical line: "Ye cannae watch the Bond film any time ye like. Ye either watch it or ye dinnae, n yuv goat tae watch a Bond film at Christmas"). Irvine Welsh is a very talented writer with a real gift for getting inside the heads of his characters, even if many of his stories tend to be very similar to each other. However the stories are entertaining and the content is too shocking for it to ever really get dull or repetitive. He's a writer who is well worth checking out and Reheated Cabbage is as good a place as any to start.
A word of warning though do not read if you are at all easily offended. It's full of sex, violence, bad language and scenes that some people may find very shocking.

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