The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs

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Overview

"Troubled restaurant inspector Danny Skinner is engaged on a quest to find the mysterious father his mother will not identify. He discovers that a television chef's book, The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs, may hold the necessary clues. Unraveling this classified information is the key to learning the crippling compulsions that threaten to wreck his young life. His ensuing journey takes him from Europe's festival city of Edinburgh to the foodie city of San Francisco." "But the hard-drinking, womanizing Skinner has a strange nemesis in the
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The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs: A Novel

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Overview

"Troubled restaurant inspector Danny Skinner is engaged on a quest to find the mysterious father his mother will not identify. He discovers that a television chef's book, The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs, may hold the necessary clues. Unraveling this classified information is the key to learning the crippling compulsions that threaten to wreck his young life. His ensuing journey takes him from Europe's festival city of Edinburgh to the foodie city of San Francisco." "But the hard-drinking, womanizing Skinner has a strange nemesis in the form of model-railway enthusiast Brian Kibby. It is Skinner's unfathomable, obsessive hatred of Kibby that takes over everything, threatening to destroy not only Skinner and his mission but also those he loves most dearly. When Kibby contracts a horrific, debilitating, and undiagnosable disease, Skinner understands that his destiny is inextricably bound to that of his hated rival, and he is faced with a terrible dilemma." The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs is a gothic parable about the great obsessions of our time: food, sex, and minor celebrity, and it is a brilliant examination of identity, male rivalry, and the need to belong in the world.
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Editorial Reviews

Seattle Times
Compelling....All the characters in this book, even the minor ones, are drawn with scary accuracy in Welsh's unusual voice.— Mark Lindquist
Details
“Emotional honesty—plus jokes that actually work.”
Philadelphia Week
“What begins as a narrative-switching character study quickly veers into Chuck Palahniuk territory....Hilarious insight into everything from foodie culture to the dark side of Star Trek conventions.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review
Succeeds on the strength of its tart sentences and bleak atmospherics. And the Jekyll-and-Hyde routine keeps the pages turning, even as it puts a fresh slant on that time-honored phrase, the Significant Other.— James Marcus
James Marcus - Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Succeeds on the strength of its tart sentences and bleak atmospherics. And the Jekyll-and-Hyde routine keeps the pages turning, even as it puts a fresh slant on that time-honored phrase, the Significant Other.”
Mark Lindquist - Seattle Times
“Compelling....All the characters in this book, even the minor ones, are drawn with scary accuracy in Welsh's unusual voice.”
Details
“Emotional honesty—plus jokes that actually work.”
Publishers Weekly
Welsh, who will probably never live down Trainspotting (1993), gets considerable comic mileage from dual Edinburgh protagonists and their disparate perspectives. Danny Skinner is the bad boy of the local restaurant inspection office, partying hearty, keeping irregular hours and doing just enough to keep a tenuous hold on his job and on longtime girlfriend Kay, a dancer. The arrival at the office of eager-to-please Brian Kibby, a virginal nerd fresh from university, completely throws off Danny's game and draws his unmitigated ire ("Another fucking clone, another Foy arse-licking sycophant"). As Brian's father lays dying, Danny, who never knew his father, sets out to discover his father's identity; meanwhile, smarmy celebrity chef Alan De Fretais, with his filthy kitchen, brings things to a buddy-movie flashpoint. With plenty of plot movement-Danny journeys to America; Brian falls prey to a mysterious illness that requires Danny to really function at work-and rich characters, the novel keeps the reader entertained with a full-bodied (those kitchens are hot and cramped) view of life's ironies. It's eminently filmable, but not in the manner of its illustrious predecessor; Welsh's expansive storytelling and archly imaginative humor now suggest a more aggro John Irving. 7-city author tour. (Aug. 7) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Don't be misled by the voyeuristic title to expect a feast of food and sex. Actually, this is a tale of hate between two young Edinburgh Environmental Health officers-Danny, an alcoholic who blames his addiction on the absence of a father, and Brian, a shy model railroad enthusiast who resorts to masturbation to release his sexual fantasies. Brian finds Danny intimidating, yet Danny thinks that it is Brian's effeminacy that drives him to feel this way. Mysteriously, every time Brian lapses into pain from an unidentifiable virus, the otherwise healthy Danny experiences an identical pain. Scottish writer Welsh does a commendable job of weaving a common thread between rivals, but he fails to project the same fresh and witty voice he presented in Trainspotting, instead preferring to concoct a novel following a more popular recipe that includes punk music, video games, drugs, religious upbringing, politics, voudou, and murders. The result will arouse the adrenaline of some readers but will leave die-hard Welsh fans hungry. Recommended for public libraries.-Victor Or, Vancouver & Surrey P.L., B.C. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The dangerous symbiotic relationship embracing two profoundly different protagonists forms the core of Scottish-born Welsh's seventh novel. "Environmental Health Officer" Danny Skinner inspects restaurants for the Edinburgh City Council, whenever not drinking to blissful excess or pleasuring himself with gorgeous girlfriend Kay. Danny's bilious contempt for grandstanding celebrity chef Alan De Fretais (whose bestselling amalgam of culinary and erotic advice provides Welsh's splendid title) draws the ire of his superiors-and opens doors for his nondescript new colleague Brian Kibby. The latter is an innocuous virginal innocent, whose mystification over Danny's inexplicable contempt for him is exacerbated by his father's lingering fatal illness, and its effects on his frail mother, Joyce. When Danny is stricken with a "mystery virus" that seems to replicate his father's ordeal, Danny feels his arrogant cocksureness begin to crumble ("He had come to regard Kibby as his mirror, a road map of his own mortality"). Attempting to mend his dissolute ways, Danny heads for California to seek the father he never knew-but returns to Edinburgh unenlightened, as Brian (who has made a surprising, if incomplete recovery) falls into a pattern of righteous anger that further complicates their compulsive mutual obsessions. The truth about Danny's heritage, far darker and more despairing than Danny imagines, is in fact buried in the Kibby family's history. And it stuns them both with savage ironic force in the novel's extended climax, provoked by Danny's romantic interest in Brian's sister Caroline, and a long-untold story finally rescued from silence. Welsh braids these dramatic particulars together withconsiderable skill, despite a slackening of intensity in segments narrated by peripheral characters, and the relegation of the title subplot to almost incidental status. Nevertheless, the narrative doesn't let up, and the hammerblows keep landing. Something new from the antic provocateur whose recent books have been frustratingly uneven. Welsh's best since his spectacular debut novel Trainspotting.
From the Publisher
“An exquisitely-paced, black comedy with clever and funny things to say.”
Evening Standard
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393329667
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/7/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 839,676
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Irvine Welsh

Irvine Welsh is the author of seven works of fiction, most recently Porno. He lives in Dublin.

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Read an Excerpt

Prelude

She Came to Dance, 20 January 1980

-THIS IS THE FUCKIN CLASH! The green-haired girl had screamed into the face of the flinty-eyed bouncer, who'd shoved her back into her seat. - And this is a fuckin cinema, he'd told her.

It was the Odeon cinema, and the security personnel seemed determined to stop any dancing. But after the local band, Joseph K, had finished their set, the main act had come out all guns blazing, blasting out 'Clash City Rockers', and the crowd immediately surged down to the front of the house.The girl with the green hair scanned around for the bouncer, who was preoccupied, then sprang back up. For a while the security staff tried to stem the tide, but finally capitulated about halfway through the set, between 'I Fought the Law' and '(White Man) in the Hammersmith Palais'.

The crowd was lost in the thrashing noise; at the front of the house they bounced along in rapture, while those at the back climbed on to their seats to dance. The girl with green hair, now right at the front centre of the stage, seemed to be rising higher than the rest, or perhaps it was just her hair, and the way the strobes hit it, making it appear as if a spectacular emerald flame was bursting from her head. A few, only a few, were gobbing at the band and she was screaming at them to cut it out as he - her hero - had only just recovered from hepatitis.

She'd been to the Odeon only a few times before, most recently to see Apocalypse Now, but it wasn't like this and she could bet that it had never been. Her friend Trina was a few feet from her, the only other girl so near the front that she could almost smell the band.

Taking a last gulp from the plastic Irn Bru bottle she'd filled with snakebite, she killed it and let it fall to the sticky, carpeted floor. Her brain fizzed with the buzz of it working in tandem with the amphetamine sulphate she'd taken earlier. She roared the words of the songs as she leapt, working herself into a defiant frenzy, going to a place where she could almost forget what he had told her earlier that afternoon. Just after they'd made love when he'd gone so quiet and distant, his thin, wiry frame shivering on the mattress.

- What's up, Donnie? What is it? she'd asked him.

- It's all fucked, he'd said blankly.

She told him not to be daft, everything was brilliant and the Clash gig was happening tonight, they'd been waiting for this for ages. Then he turned round and his eyes were moist and he looked like a child. It was then that her first and only lover had told her that he'd been fucking someone else earlier; right there on the mattress they shared every night, the place where they'd just made love.

It had meant nothing; it was a mistake, he immediately claimed, panic rising in him as the extent of his transgression became apparent in her reaction. He was young and learning about boundaries as he saw his emotional vocabulary extending out in front of him, just a little too slowly. He had just wanted to tell her: to be straight with her.

She saw his lips move but heard little of the detail of his qualification as she'd got out of their mattress bed and pulled on her clothes.Then she'd taken his ticket for the gig from her pocket and ripped it into pieces right there in front of him. And after that she'd gone to the Southern Bar to meet the others, as arranged, then on to the Odeon to see the show because the greatest rock 'n' roll band of all time were playing in her city and she would see it and he would miss it and at least some sort of justice would be done.

A tallish guy with short dark hair dressed in a leather jacket, jeans and a mohair jumper, who had been pogoing next to her, was suddenly screaming something in her ear as the band went into 'Complete Control'. She couldn't make it out and it didn't matter as in an instant she was eating his face off, and his arms felt good around her.

The second encore began with the comparatively rare 'Revolution Rock' and ended with an incandescent version of 'London's Burning' repositioned as 'Edinburgh's Burning'.And she was too, melting with the speed in her brain, which pulsed in the frozen air as they got outside the cinema.The boy was going to a party in the Canongate and he asked her to come along. She agreed; she didn't want to go home.More than that, she wanted him.And wanted to show someone else that two could play at that game.

As they walked in the cold night he talked effusively, seeming fascinated by her green mane, and told her that this part of town used to be known as Little Ireland. He explained that the Irish immigrants settled here, and it was in these streets that Burke and Hare murdered the poor and destitute in order to provide bodies for the medical school. She looked up at his face; there was a hard set to it but his eyes were sensitive, even womanly. He pointed over to St Mary's Church, and told her that many years before Celtic in Glasgow, the Edinburgh Irishmen had formed the Hibernian Football Club in these very halls. He grew animated when he pointed up the street, and told her that Hibernian's most famous supporter, James Connolly, was born up that road and had went on to lead the Easter Risings in Dublin, which culminated in Ireland's freedom from British imperialism.

It seemed important to him that she knew that Connolly was a socialist, not an Irish nationalist. - In this city we know nothing about our real identity, he said passionately, - it's all imposed on us.

But she had other things on her mind than history and he would be her second lover that evening, though by the end of the night she would have had three.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2007

    Best of Welshs work so far

    Irvine Welsh will never fails to disappiont you.With all the twists and turns Welshs unusual voice keeps you turning the pages.

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