Title: A Decent Ride
Author: Irvine Welsh
Page Count: 484
This book was a lot of fun for me because I got to go back and see Juice Terry Lawson, one of Welsh’s most iconic characters. We’re always in for a treat when Welsh is writing short fiction about his biggest characters and setting them in Scotland, and this is a pretty typical entry into his bibliography.
For me, that’s a good thing, and I’m pretty impressed with how consistently good Welsh is able to be. I also liked the fact that while this is a big old chunker of a book, the print isn’t particularly dense and so it was easy enough to read through and the writing itself was fantastic. That meant that it felt like a big accomplishment when I completed it, despite it only taking me a couple of days to get from start to finish.
I also noticed when I was looking up the details for this book that it was shortlisted for a comedy writing prize, and that seems appropriate to me. Some of Welsh’s books can be pretty hard going because of how dark and bleak they are, and while this one does still contain more than its fair share of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, it does have a lighter feeling to it that stops it from getting too dark.
I’d still call it dark comedy though, and it mostly focussed on some of the darker sides of humanity, revealing us in all of our awful glory. Welch has a knack for that, and so we shouldn’t be surprised by it. What is surprising, though, is how he manages to keep things so funny.
When I started reading this book, I was expecting it to be a collection of short stories, but that’s not really accurate. It’s more accurate to call it a novel that tells the fragmented stories of a bunch of different characters, allowing the story to wash over you instead of being a more straightforward, linear thing.
That won’t suit everyone because different readers like different types of books, but it was just the sort of thing that I was hoping for and Welsh did it well. It’s hard not to enjoy yourself when you’re reading something and the author has taken a few risks that have pulled off.
Plus I liked the whole Hurricane Bawbag thing, and it was interesting how there’s a running theme of the weather throughout it. It actually gave it a heightened sense of realism and left me feeling as though I was actually there. You could almost hear the thunder and the pattering of rain against the puddles, and I felt a lot of sympathy for the punters who waited out the storm in the pub. It was called Hurricane Bawbag for a reason, you know.