Monday, September 18, 2006


‘It is through the cracks in our brains that ecstasy creeps in.’
Logan Pearsall Smith
The ecstasy in this collection, Ecstasy: Three tales of chemical romance may refer to the drug but this is only superficial and has layers of complexity huddled into them. Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting, Glue, Porno), it has to be said, is exclusively a rave-writer and as such most of his works observe the abyss of drug-users and how the pull of this abyss often has varying results. Thus, each of the three novellas in this collection have completely independent focus and in each Ecstasy acts only as a flashlight in searching for ecstasy.

In Lorraine goes to Livingston, a best selling author in the romance genre is left paralysed and bed-bound. She plans revenge on her cheating, gambling and whoring husband with the help of her nurse, Lorraine. This story has some Will Self bizarreness to it in the way it grotesquely parodies trashy paperbacks and tells of necrophilia in the hospitals under full knowledge of the supervision.

Fortune’s always hiding tells of a young couple, a deformed woman and her criminal lover, and how the take revenge against the corporate goons who deformed the beautiful lady for life with a thalidomide-like drug.

My favourite novella in the collection and the one which is true to its ‘tale of chemical romance’ tagline is this third and last one: The Undefeated. It tells of a couple, yuppie Heather and raver Lloyd, who fall in love while doing E at raves and parties. It is written alternatively between the two lovers so as to present each one’s side of the story and understanding of the drug culture not just a whole but to each gender, group and class. As the two discover each other soon their love of Ecstasy is transformed into the ecstasy of Love.

Comparisons will surely be made here with Trainspotting, Welsh’s most famous work that deals similarly with the drug culture in Leith and Edinburgh, but readers should remember that the drug in question here is Ecstasy and not Heroin. As anyone that has taken ecstasy would know, the drug makes you energetically confused and fuming for more and more unlike heroin. Heroin is a very slow drug that is depreciatingly smooth and makes one very, very immobile. Thus, Trainspotting may have had its slow grins but Ecstasy has its melting laughter. Music plays a very important role in the E-couture so when one reads The Undefeated, one becomes very aware of the musical environment and the nightclubbing that was absent in Trainspotting where the characters were too busy burning out as opposed to going out. However, the collection does posses Welsh’s familiar Scottish phonetics and black humour.

Give it a go. You may not easily find the drug (you may be looking in the wrong places) but the book is a best-seller and can be purchased by pressing the link below. If only E was as easy to come by.

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