Review: The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins by Irvine Welsh

Sex Lives of Siamese Twins by Irvine WelshThe Sex Lives of Siamese Twins taps into two great obsessions of our time, personal training regimes and real estate – how we look and where we live – and tells a story so subversive and dark it blacks out the Florida sun.

When Lucy Brennan, a Miami Beach personal-fitness trainer, disarms a gunman chasing two frightened homeless men, the police and the breaking-news cameras are not far behind and, within hours, Lucy is a media hero. The solitary eye-witness is the depressed and overweight Lena Sorensen, who becomes obsessed with Lucy and signs up as her client – though she seems more interested in the trainer’s body than her own. When the two women find themselves more closely aligned, and can’t stop thinking about the sex lives of Siamese twins, the real problems start…

In the aggressive, foul-mouthed trainer, Lucy Brennan, and the needy, manipulative Lena Sorensen, Irvine Welsh has created two of his most memorable female protagonists, and one of the most bizarre, sado-masochistic folies à deux in contemporary fiction. Featuring murder, depravity and revenge – and enormous amounts of food and sex – The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins taps into two great obsessions of our time – how we look and where we live – and tells a story so subversive and dark it blacks out the Florida sun.

Review

Talk about being drawn into an intense spiral of obsession and obscenities, reading until your eyes go blurry, and then feeling wounded from a story. A story! I admit I haven’t read any of Irvine Welsh’s books before The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins. Upon completion of reading Sex Lives though, I would hazard a guess none of his work is going to go over well with innocent readers. At. All.

I do not believe I am a prude. Turns out the only reason that’s good for me is I’m able to stomach certain scenarios in narratives. Well, scenarios and copious amounts of swearing. Lucy Brennan is one of the most crass characters I have come across. Crass, self-absorbed, detrimental to herself and everyone around her, and personally I believe she is unlikable.

The beginning of the story created this false sense of relating to a character. It’s rare to come across bisexual characters in mainstream fiction. I don’t want to pull the bisexual woman card, but I’ve had my fair share of dealings with stereotypes and abuse all due to sexuality. It is common for a bi-woman to be labelled a nymphomaniac, promiscuous, and a tease. Towards the end of Sex Lives, it was spiralling into a degenerative fantasy featuring stereotypical bisexual women.

I can’t decide if this was shocking merely for shocks-sake, or if the boorish, over the top sexual fantasy, and vehement obscenities was the point. The part of me that likes to read into everything sees this as a commentary on stereotypes. Everything in Sex Lives is extreme. I believe some of it was uncalled for and at times I wasn’t convinced there was a point. Then I realised the characters have a distinct obsession and the plot’s mess reflects it.

I’m sure I will be all-sorts of perplexed for a while. So much so I’m not sure which direction to go in. On the one hand the story was really messed up, but I know Sex Lives wouldn’t be what it is if it wasn’t messed up. I thoroughly enjoyed it up until a point. I even went so far as to describe parts of the story to my partner so we could share in the astonishment it caused. The point was the climax. This is not a pun, but you could take it as one. If you’ve read it you’ll understand what I mean when the story could have been brought to completion at the climax… Yes, I am rolling my eyes at that.

On the other hand, I feel as though I should be highly offended. I can’t decide if that’s a wanted reaction or not, which is one reason I’m perplexed. What really turned me off though wasn’t the intensity, the vulgarity, the sex scenes, the language, or even the climax. No, it was having all the pieces wrapped up. Once the climax is reached the intensity is gone. It wasn’t even a satisfying after-climax for me. The momentum was lost and my ability to care went with it. This is what undid the story for me.

If you’re a prude stay away from The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins. Stay far, far away. Otherwise do read it if only for the experience if not the story.

2 thoughts on “Review: The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins by Irvine Welsh

  1. Irvine Welsh definitely aims to shock! I find some of his work more successful, Trainspotting obviously is a cult sensation now and Filth in particular. I have Skagboys to read but I know I’m going to have to mentally prepare myself for it!!

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    • I can only imagine. I’ve been wanting to read Trainspotting for ages now, but… Oh, I might need a break after Sex Lives lol. The movie, although I love it, is hard enough to get through.

      Thanks for visiting Cathy 🙂

      Like

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