If You Liked School, You'll Love Work

If You Liked School, You'll Love Work

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by Irvine Welsh

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Irvine Welsh, the author of Trainspotting, is up to his old tricks with his new work of transgressive short fiction.  See more details below


Irvine Welsh, the author of Trainspotting, is up to his old tricks with his new work of transgressive short fiction.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The author of Trainspottinggives a master class in gallows humor in his first story collection since The Acid House(1995). Three of the five stories take place in the U.S., and Welsh relishes punishing ugly Americans. In "Rattlesnakes," a trio of vapid hedonists lost in the desert are forced to perform sexually degrading acts by an unhinged illegal immigrant, while "The DOGS of Lincoln Park" finds a bitchy Chicago princess throwing a hissy fit over her missing papillon, Toto, who she fears has landed in her Korean neighbor's crock pot. Page-turners both, but the characters are too easily satirized. More likable is the narrator of "Miss Arizona," an aspiring auteur whose interviews with his filmmaker hero's ex-wife turn increasingly creepy. Welsh shines in the title story, about an ex-pat skirt-chasing bar owner in the Canary Islands, and the novella, "The Kingdom of Fife," set in a glum Scotland town. Narrative duties in the last are shared by "wee" Jason King, a former jockey and current compulsive masturbator and table football champion, and Jenni Cahill, a horse jumper and local gangster's daughter. That a story featuring a gruesome decapitation, dogfighting, equine death and rampant wanking can produce such an amiable effect is testament to Welsh's delightful degeneracy. (Sept.)

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Library Journal

Several of the five stories in this collection from Welsh (Trainspotting) deal with one of society's ugliest realities, bigotry. Characters from disparate parts of society are thrown together in settings that are either geographical or moral deserts, there to display bigotry's main features: fear, obstinacy, and unenlightenment. In "The Kingdom of Fife," by alternating the narrative between the repulsive but charming Jason and his unlikely paramour, the well-to-do Jenni, Welsh seems to suggest that we can break the cycle of bigotry only by listening to and genuinely getting to know one another. Incidents are as dramatic as they are unlikely-decapitation by road sign, poisonous snake strike on male genitalia-yet, because of Welsh's skill as a storyteller, the consequent action is tremendously funny and makes the original event believable. Despite occasionally slipping into the British argot in narratives set in America with American characters, these exceptional stories give readers a glimpse into the lives of people with whom most would not ordinarily come into contact. Recommended for public and academic libraries.

—K.H. Cumiskey
Kirkus Reviews
The Scottish provocateur best-known for his ebulliently racy novels (The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs, 2007, etc.) is at it again, in a new collection of four stories and a short novel. The Welsh we all know and tolerate is loudly displayed in the rambling title story, in which Scots expatriate Mickey Baker, who's running a pub in the Canary Islands, preys on his well-endowed barmaid, dodges his vengeful ex-wife and frets over the frequent presences of two sinister Spaniards who appear to be planning a mob hit. The humor is engulfed in semi-intelligible Scots dialect, but Welsh's admirers probably won't mind. Elsewhere, three young Chicago women-self-described as Desperate Obsessive Girl Snobs (DOGS)-natter on about no-good men, while one of them obsesses over the Korean chef who lives upstairs-especially when her real dog disappears ("The DOGS of Lincoln Park"). Welsh channels Sunset Boulevard in the fitfully involving tale of a would-be screenwriter who discovers, while researching the life of a famed indie-film director, how much he has in common with the latter's grotesque megalomaniac widow Yolanda ("Miss Arizona"). Also set in the United States, "Rattlesnakes" is really only an extended dirty joke detailing the sexual misunderstandings and violence that ensue after one of the title reptiles bites a stoned male festival-goer you-know-where, requiring that the poison be sucked out from . . . well, you-know-where. It's awful, even by Welsh's ever-diminishing standards. Somewhat better, because it's set in a world Welsh knows intimately, is the novella Kingdom of Fife, about unemployed DJ Jason King's farcical pursuit of nubile equestriennes, his R-rated fulminations amusinglycounterpointed by the urbane ravings of Jason's irascible dad, a lifelong socialist who loves "gangsta" rap. Much more of this would have been far better than any of the briefer stories. Jane Austen might have laughed at Welsh behind her parasol, but wouldn't have let him into the parlor. Readers who are getting tired of the same old shite may likewise be getting ready to show him the door.

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Product Details

Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Irvine Welsh is the author of seven previous works of fiction, including The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs. He lives in Dublin.

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