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A Psychopath on The Verge of A Nervous Breakdown
am 20. Juli 2000
Filth is one depraved piece of writing. Without warning or pause we are bombarded with the uncensored, delightfully preverse, bitter, vindictive and spectacularly cruel first person narration of Detective Sargent Bruce Robertson. Through numerous and intentionally repetitive tales of sodomy, pornography, blackmail, theft, intimidation and just about every other crime there is, the reader stops, looks away from the book and towards the ceiling with a soft gasp and a little smile on his/her face. The delight the reader feels is that of a voyeur.
But it doesn't last, the comedy I mean. It masks the uglyness for a while, but the direction is downhill. Welsh deceptively gives the impression that he is not in the driver's seat, that this whole book is a door opened from this pervert's mind and all you get is his bigotry. And as you enjoy this temporary abandon of moral restraint Welsh gives you a one sentence paragraph "HOW DID THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?" Weather good old honest to Satan Bruce is harrassing his best friend's wife on the phone, the same bespectacled friend he takes to Amesterdam "to go whoring for Scotland", the same friend so in need of his spectacles that Bruce is naturally delighted to crush them under his boots while the big oaf sleeps. Preversely hysterical stuff, but there is Welsh again with "HOW DID THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?". By the time Bruce is burning his boss's hardwork on a screenplay, it not very funny anymore, it is pathetic. I know this a difficult concept for some to understand, but the book's very lack of moral prespective redeems it. There is no pop physcology here. The less perceptive among its readers will laugh a little longer, but all readers will eventually realise that Bruce Robertson is digging his own grave.
In my first review I made clear my dislike for the tapeworm narration. I still dislike it, it is an ingenious and original device. But it is a "Device" and goes against the stream of consciencness approach. Maybe he had to include it, just to point the way.
Filth is a virtual reality experience, for a few hundred pages YOU ARE BRUCE ROBERTSON. Therefore you want him to get that promotion, to get the better of his enemies and getaway with his crimes, no matter how vicious they maybe. Everything seems different froom the inside looking out. Towards the end Bruce (and inturn you the reader) gets to see himself from the outside, from his colleages' point of view, and its a tragic sight. After its over get up, look at a mirror and ask yourself "HOW DID THAT MAKE ME FEEL?".