Tuesday, June 17, 2008

If you liked school...

I tried to read Irvine Welsh's "If You Liked School, You'll Love Work". I picked it up almost entirely because of the title. I've read a couple of his other books, and they'd put me off reading any more, but I thought I should give him another go. His writing is good, and he always manages to capture the voice of his characters. So why was I cautious?

Welsh seems to revel in creating thoroughly unlikeable characters, people you would cross the street to avoid, perhaps even move house, assume a false name and grow a beard. They do horrible things to their friends, their pets, random strangers, and themselves.

Now, I've never assumed that you need to like a protagonist in order to enjoy a book, but this book got me thinking. I was trying to come up with a story I've read where the main character is an arse, but I got nowhere. Characters are usually at least sympathetic or their motives understandable. You have to want to spend at least a few hours in their company.

Anyway, I slogged my way through the first of the six stories in the book. This is the tale of three unlikeable Americans whose car breaks down in the desert. They do horrible things to each other with the help of an unlikeable Mexican. A nasty little story from the depths of Mr Welsh's wank-bank.

I managed the first chapter of the next story, before giving up. This one is about the thoroughly unlikeable owner of an English pub in Spain. He takes advantage of his family, his staff and his patrons. I stopped before people started doing horrible things to each other, but I have to assume that they did.

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