Thursday, August 27, 2015

'The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins'

Sometimes, I'm in the mood to read strange, wonderful, gritty stories.  Stories that surprise me.  Who, in the name of all that is crazy and holy, doesn't like surprises?

'The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins', by Irvine Welsh (he of 'Trainspotting' fame), is no exception.  

It's rough, it's sexy, it's full of characters who have personalities that turn on a dime.  When I was halfway through it, I thought, "Who needs a plot?"  Welsh is that good.  

When Lucy Brennan, a Miami Beach personal fitness trainer, disarms an apparently crazed gunman who was chasing two frightened homeless men along a deserted causeway at night, the police and the news media are not far behind.  Within hours, Lucy becomes a hero.  But her celebrity is short-lived:  The 'crazed gunman' turns out to be a victim of child sexual abuse and the two men are serial pedophiles.

The only witness, the depressed and overweight Lena Sorenson, is thrilled with Lucy's heroism, and becomes obsessed with her.  She enrolls as a client at Lucy's Body-sculpt gym.

But when the truth comes out about the pedophiles, Lucy's transition from hero to villain is complete.  Although Lucy tries to shake it off, her solution is to imprison Lena and make her lose weight.  When Lucy can't stop thinking about the sex lives of some famous Siamese twins who are in the news, the real problems start.

I found it amazing how well Welsh turned the tables.  You can feel the anger and sexual longing in Lucy, and her dedication to her health and fitness is somewhat alarming.  In Lena, we have an obese artist who, at first glance, seems happier just to stay on the sidelines and eat until her pain goes away. But when Welsh presents the backgrounds of these women on a silver tray, it makes the story even more interesting.  
Author Irvine Welsh

There are more characters, but to me, they were merely window dressing (although that doesn't diminish the author's skill at creating them).  But each one has a place, a set place.

It's all about the two women.  Their strengths and weaknesses.  Their needs and longings. The way they dance around each other, with twists and turns....and surprises.

I loved this book.  And despite its grittiness, you'll like it, too.  Actually, the grittiness gave this story the familiar mark of Irvine Welsh.  

And welcome to the good, ol' U.S.A., Mr. Welsh!

'The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins', published by Doubleday, a division of Random House, can be found at your local library, and your favorite independent bookstore.  ISBN 978-0-385-53938-8

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