Ecstasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance
By Irvine Welsh
- Author: Irvine Welsh
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
- Published: August 1996
- ISBN-10: 0393315819
- ISBN-13: 9780393315813
- Format: Paperback
- Copyright: 1996
- Subject: FICTION / Short Stories (single author)
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Welsh serves up three specimens of a new genre of fiction: the chemical romance. In 'Lorraine Goes to Livingston,' a best-selling author of Regency romances, paralyzed & bedridden, plans her revenge on a gambling, whoring husband with the aid of her nurse, Lorraine; in 'Fortune's Always Hiding,' flawed beauty Samantha Worthington enlists a smitten young soccer thug to find the man who marketed the drug that crippled her from birth - in order to give him a taste of his own disastrous medicine; in the upbeat final tale, 'The Undefeated,' readers experience the transfiguring passion of the miserably married young yuppie Heather & the raver Lloyd from Leith - an affair played out to a house music beat.
The ecstasy involved in rave-writer Welsh's three novellas at first may seem exclusively the chemical kind ("e," "ecky," "MDMA") downed at Dionysian dance parties by alienated post-Thatcher youth and nearly every character here. But Welsh's latest misfits are also looking (however incoherently) for a higher ecstasy too: in a half-articulated credo, one eckied-out character thinks: "you had to party harder than ever.... It was your duty to show that you were still alive. Political sloganeering and posturing meant nothing; you had to celebrate the joy of life." Meantime, though, they are hooked on other drugs, petty crime, pub brawls, casual/kinky sex and bodice-buster novels. "Lorraine Goes to Livingston: A Rave and Regency Romance," the weakest of the three novellas, mixes Will Self-style grotesque social satire with an increasingly sick parody of trashy paperbacks. Welsh's own version of true love goes even farther over the top in "Fortune's Always Hiding" as a sociopathic Cockney criminal falls for a woman deformed by a thalidomide-like drug and they take gruesome revenge on its corporate manufacturers. The last and best, "The Undefeated," presents modern love in Edinburgh as a "chemical romance" between the party-addict Lloyd, whose acidified life consists only of weekend house bashes, and straight-peg Heather, who trades her bougie existence for e. Ecstasy exports Welsh's pitch-perfect slang, black humor and surreal imagination in an exhilarating, mutable style like the written equivalent of techno music, cutting right through to his characters' lives. (Sept.) Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information.
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