Irvine Welsh on "Crime"
Irvine Welsh grew up in Leith, Scotland. The son of working class parents, he spent his childhood in government housing, a milieu he gave voice to in his hugely popular novel and subsequent film, Trainspotting. The book was an international success and long-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 1993. Welsh moved to London in his twenties and played in local punk bands but returned to Edinburgh in the late-80s. Drawing inspiration from the the rave culture there, he began writing seriously and submitting to literary journals. After Trainspotting, he published Ecstasy, Glue, Porno, The Acid House and The Bedroom Secrets of Master Chefs. His books’ themes range from the Scottish identity, sectarianism, classism, immigration, unemployment, AIDS and drug use. Recent works are The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs (2006), a play, Babylon Heights (2006), written with Dean Cavanagh, and If You Liked School You'll Love Work (2007). His latest novel, Crime, was published in 2008. He has taught undergraduate creative writing at Columbia College in Chicago and currently divides his time between Miami, Chicago, Dublin and London.
Irvine Welsh: It’s like, it’s weird, because actually as I’ve said what kind of mission as a writer has always [be I hope] people mess up, and it’s weird because the way [IB] got on “Crime” is a bit different because it’s… If you’re looking about how people heal there’s a superficial thing about the pedophilia which is quite, is a shocking subject to deal with, but it wouldn’t have been interesting for me to write a book about that as a subject because it’s so bleak and it’s so morally unambiguous.
It’s just so wrong and evil and that’s the end of it, basically. So there’s nothing really interesting to write about that. So, what was more interesting to write about is how people actually survive something like that and how they come through it and how they help each other to come out the other side of it. So, from a quite a very kind of bleak and distressful subject, it’s probably the most upbeat book I’ve written, in a way. So, it’s… Yeah. It is very different from the other books in the sense that that is the kind of line of inquiry rather than the reverse. Yeah.
Question: What inspired the book?
Irvine Welsh: I think, with this one, I was reading Nabokov’s “Lolita” which I’ve read a couple of times, and there’s always something that I didn’t like about the book, . I was trying work out what it was, and I think it’s the… I think it’s this contention that… obviously, it was written in a very different time and all that, and people would back then, people didn’t know how kind of scarring and devastating child abuse was on somebody who’s experienced it, but it was this idea that somebody could be a pedophile but was justified of this kind of high minded sort of educated [IB].
And I kind of wanted to write against that and to sort of to say, well, no it’s not really kind of… It’s not acceptable under any circumstances, . It’s like, kind of… It’s not acceptable for a kind of… Why should it be more acceptable for, like, a fated sort of pop star to take children to his bed when a lorry driver or a truck driver would be treated a completely different way for doing the same thing, . So, it’s like, it’s kind of [regaling] against all that sort of and looking at the kind of how how devastating that is to people who experience it. So, I was kind of writing against that kind of debacle thing, and I want to… So, I want to derive something, to me, that it seemed to be more, to be more socially real.
Recorded on: September 8, 2008
Irvine Welsh says a critical reading of Lolita was his point of departure.
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