In this collection of 21 short-stories and a novella called ‘A Smart Cunt‘, Irvine Welsh goes on a bizarre, crazy, and satisfying exploration of writing, writing styles and subjects.
Let’s start with the structure of these stories. Some are one page long, some are just a paragraph long, some are almost like a poem, some are written in a documentary style going in every detail, some hardly go out of a monologue, and some just don’t go anywhere and still evoke a strong emotional response.
Take these two titles, for instance:
The Cruel bastard and the Selfish Fucker Get It On
That’s a title of a short story.
Career Opportunities and Fanny Licking
That’s a chapter title from the novella.
Every part of the book is part of a story.
Moving on to the subjects, Irvine goes to into really dark places: A granny selling heroine to young boys [Granny’s Old Junk], a guy turned to a house-fly watching his old parents fuck [The Granton Star Cause], two philosophers beating each other [The Two Philosophers], etc. . The title story, The Acid House, itself deserves an essay about it. Welsh takes whatever you hold dear & sacred and rips it apart. And you let him do that, because you know he will do justice to it.
These stories touch all emotions – love, anger, jealousy, wonder, attachment, obsession, carelessness, freedom, suppression, lust, confusion, identity crisis, it’s endless series of them.
His characters are alive, vivid and real, and none of them are same. Even the same character is not the same from starting to the end; the personal evolution tales Welsh tells in most of his stories are a deep study in psychology of the character. Their dialogues reflect on their character, vocabulary (giving away mental capacity), accent (giving a social background and context), mood (hence the state of mind), etc. – every detail adds to the whole. He’s a fucking genius cunt, I am tellin ya!
Most of his narratives are in a monologue of his characters and since you have an unfiltered access to them, it gets brutal.
I’m thinking about my life and that is always a very, very stupid thing to do.
We didn’t have strong feelings for each other, we were just playing out time waiting for the real thing tae come along.
Welsh can get in your head, give you the craziest of ideas in a matter-of-fact tone and make you sympathise with them. He does that, mostly, by weaving the craziness back into reality with something crazy that is not that uncommon.
I board a bus and start to feel horny with the vibrations from the engine. I make a mental list of all the women I’d like to have se with. I feel awkward and self-conscious getting off the bus with an erection. It subsides, however, as I stand at the West possibility, and I try to think of what I need, so I can go to the appropriate store rather just go somewhere and chory for chorying’s sake.
So many outgoings were purely drink and drugs which, although substantial enough, with a bit of dealing, insurance and credit-card fraud, could be met fairly comfortably while allowing me to save. How good was that?
But Irvine Welsh is not for everyone, especially The Acid House. Pick it up if you are comfortable with shedding your own perspective and dawning any random perspective presented to you, without a judgement. Only then can you truly understand and celebrate his genius.
Even though The Acid House is full of monologue, and hence a lot of philosophy, Welsh knows how to balance it out with wonderful narratives. In other words, it’s beautifully fucking illustrated.
The Acid House is psychological, social, psychedelic, cultural, artist, and a genius piece of literature.
I take a couple of shots which come out well. They really capture the personalities of the three punters involved. That’s surely what portrait photography is all about.
The Blind Cunt and the Smart Cunt; a tale of two cunts. Well that’s that tale finished, I hope. Finished for good.