Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Books 23 & 24 of 2015: Filth by Irvine Welsh and Blood Bath by Stephen Leather & others

Tuesday means it's time for another pair of books from the depths of my book journal (that's right, it's the book journal today, I'll be blogging about my Bullet Journal again soon).

First up is Filth by Irvine Welsh. This was a book which had been floating around at work and EVERYONE had given up on it. Some had only made it a page or two in before deciding it definitely wasn't for them and bringing it back in for the next person to try.

Well, you know I love a challenge. And I can't leave a book unfinished. And I did need a book with a one-word title for my Reading Challenge. So I took it.

It's pretty much a long stream of consciousness story, narrated by Bruce (among others), and Edinburgh police officer. His marriage has broken down and he's got an uncomfortable rash. His life basically goes downhill from there.

Surprisingly, this only took me about five days to get through. I was expecting it to take me much longer. It took me a little while to get used to the style of writing, but once I did, I was able to read it pretty quickly. At least, I got through the first half quite quickly, the second half took me longer.

I think during the first half of the book I was waiting for Bruce to do something which would make me like him a little more. By the second half, I knew that was never going to come. I wound up just feeling annoyed and disgusted by him, at which point I really wasn't enjoying the book any more and I was just waiting for it to end.

We do get a glimpse into why Bruce is the way he is, but by the time that came around I really hated him and not even that could help me to drum up much sympathy for him. I get that he is kind of meant to be an unlikeable character but I can understand why so many of my colleagues were turned off the book.

In fact, the thing I was expecting to be my biggest barrier to the book, the fact that it's written entirely in dialect with some pretty bizarre formatting, actually was the easiest thing to get to grips with. By the end of the first ten or so pages I was used to Bruce's speech. I suppose living in Scotland for a decade and a half helped too. In fact, the things that probably bugged me most were the complete lack of quotation marks and the interjections from Bruce's tapeworm.

Yeah, it's just that kind of book.

As soon as I finished Filth, I went straight onto Blood Bath by Stephen Leather and a whole host of others. It's basically a collection of short stories, one of which was written by Jack Nightingale creator, Stephen Leather, the others were written by six authors and fans.

It's a fairly short ebook and each story has the same title, but they all tackle it in different ways. It made for a nice little quick read after Filth and despite the subject matter, it was quite light and easy by comparison. This was a good side read in between my Challenge books.

I have to say, I preferred the first couple of stories over the latter ones. Obviously the first one was closest to the Nightingale character because it was written by the actual author. Of all the stories which weren't written by Leather, the ones written by the competition-winning fans were the best. I guess the other authors wrote because they were asked to, the fans were already probably making up stories about the characters and obsessively read the previous books, so theirs felt more true to the original incarnations.

I did think that the book could have done with a little more editing, but it was a free book so I'm not exactly going to complain about a few spelling or grammatical errors. On the whole, it was a good little read. I thought it was an interesting idea to see how so many different stories could all come from the same title and cover. It'd be fun to have other writers do something similar to see the different results.


  1. Ah Filth, yes I read that one a while back too. I can see why people give up on it, as you say if the dialect and strange formatting (the tapeworm!) doesn't put you off, the character of Bruce himself most probably will!

    I would recommend the film though; http://randomramblingsthoughtsandfiction.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/filth-2013.html

    1. I wasn't sure whether I could cope with the film after the book, hehe. I'll keep an eye out for it and give it a go some time.


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