Twenty years after his first appearance on American soil with The Acid House, famed Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting and Filth, at last casts his spotlight on the United States in The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins (Doubleday; Feb. 3, 2015; $26), a visceral romp and scorching satire of life in the fading glitter of Miami.
Welcome to the sun-kissed world of South Beach, home to personal trainer Lucy Brennan and struggling artist Lena Sorensen. When Lucy — an amiable sadist, unrepentant narcissist, and self-proclaimed “zealous warrior against the plague of obesity which is swamping our nation in blubber” — disarms a violent gunman to prevent a shooting on a Florida causeway, Lena is there to capture the footage on her cell phone.
The heroic video transforms Lucy into an overnight media sensation, all the while thrusting the enormously gifted, yet pathologically lonely Lena into the center of a tabloid celebrity saga.
While Lucy’s addiction to extreme exercise evolves in tandem with Lena’s penchant for compulsive overeating, the two are drawn closer and closer together as Lucy tries to improve Lena’s lifestyle. As traumas new and old reveal themselves, disturbing similarities between the pair begin to emerge, hurtling them together on a compulsive, haunting, and genuinely transgressive odyssey.
In his first book to feature an all- American cast and his first narrated entirely from the point of view of its female characters, Welsh delivers his trademark brand of notoriously corrosive comic energy through a compelling duet of dark, dirty, and realistic voices. A manic rush that sneaks in some serious commentary on the failed story of the American dream and our collective obsession with self-image, The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins evokes the Florida coast to be just as harrowing as any Edinburgh drug den.
Welsh will be discussing his book at Books and Books, 265 Aragon Ave. in Coral Gables, on Wednesday, Feb. 4, at 7 p.m.