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Hand Reached Down to Guide Me by David Gates
Hand Reached Down to Guide Me by David Gates
Relentlessly inventive, alternately hilarious and tragic, always moving, these stories and a novella prove yet again that David Gates is one of our most talented, witty and emotionally intelligent writers. Learn more | See similar books
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The Acid House + Filth + Trainspotting
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Welsh's (Trainspotting) gritty proletarian universe, everyone from God to Madonna (the Material Girl, not the Virgin) speaks tough, working-class Scottish dialect: "That cunt Nietzsche wis wide ay the maark whin he sais ah wis deid," confides a prickly, pint-hefting Almighty in a Glasgow pub. "Ah'm no deid, ah jist dinnae gie a fuck." Nihilism and self-absorption characterize the nearly indistiguishable junkies, football hooligans and petty thieves who narrate these edgy, preponderantly first-person stories and one novella. Like fellow Scot James Kelman (whose salty vernacular Welsh's dialogue echoes), Welsh's predatory characters are society's dregs, hard-luck losers pinned to seediness by the empire's decline and by their own low expectations. The plots address this unrelenting grimness with shocking violence or twisted comedy. With the former, Welsh lacks Kelman's chilling incisiveness and tense dramatic control; he's somewhat more successful at broad satire and manic, high-concept humor. When it works, it's hilarious: "Where the Debris Meets the Sea" features inventive turnabout, as fanzines and tabloid TV programs about Scottish lorrie drivers feed the sexual fantasies of Madonna and friends. More often, though, the satire lacks teeth, descending instead to weak sarcasm. The title story's inspired premise (an acid tripping malcontent and a yuppie couple's newborn swap souls) fizzles out in conventional, trite pokes at political correctness, men's groups and upward mobility. Author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Wakey Wakey! says Fiona when she flips on the light in Keith's tank. Keith has no body, but his brain is alive. and what about you, dear reader? Heads up, because here is Irvine Welsh and The Acid House, a collection of brilliant energy. These stories both challenge and illuminate the darkest of human experience, leavening horror with humor and a sudden, sly compassion.” (Kathryn Harrison, author of Exposure)

“I like The Acid House immensely. Irvine Welsh is the real thing - a marvelous admixture of nihilism and heartbreak, pinpoint realism (especially in dialect and tone) and almost archetypal universality.” (David Foster Wallace, author of Infinite Jest)

“Like a master pocket billiards player, Irvine Welsh, with smooth, gliding strokes and a shard-like humor, sinks a rack of short stories one by one, with chaotic caroms, double banks, and, most of all, extraordinary uses of tricky English.” (Jim Carroll, author of The Basketball Diaries)

“Superb. Amis and Donleavy have at last found a rightful heir.” (Terry Southern, author of Candy)

“[O]ne of the most significant writers in Britain. He writes with style, imagination, wit, and force, and in a voice which those alienated by much current fiction clearly want to hear.” (Times Literary Supplement)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition edition (April 17, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393312801
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393312805
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #458,171 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Irvine Welsh is the author of Trainspotting, Ecstasy, Glue, Porno, Filth, Marabou Stork Nightmares, The Acid House, If You Liked School, You'll Love Work, The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs and Reheated Cabbage. He divides his time between Florida, Ireland, and Scotland.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Nathan Joyce on July 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
Ah didnae think ah'd like this eht fist...
But these stories are pock-marked all over with irony, humour and the infallible bad language and vernacular put into use by Irvine Welsh, author of that classic (which I won't name here). This book should be read without that other book looming behind it with a knife to it's back.
This is a good read, and that should be enough. But there's people out there who think it could be better, that Welshie disnae have a grasp of the short story, etc, etc... but they're all missing the point something chronic. How often do we get the lives of Eurotrash thrust into our face? Not many of us get to witness first hand a drug raid, or indeed, a baby with a dirty mind... but herein lies Welsh's appeal. See, it's funny. It's so sick that it's funny...situations we'll never get into ourselves. It'll make you squirm and grin in revulsion. Come on people, admit it to yourself. You only ever read Welsh for the kick. Don't kid yourself about what is deemed to be literature or Booker Prize material or politically correct... just enjoy it and stop your whining.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Gordon Smith on January 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
For just the end story, "A Smart C***", The Acid House is worthwhile. Welsh is often super morbid and seriously wickedly wacky in these short stories, most of which play out a lot more like bad dreams than pristine vignettes. The closing aforementioned novella, however, is diferent. It's a surprisingly moving character study of a guy who seems to completely lack character. The guy is so totally caught up with analyzing everything surrounding him that he forgets to live. This seems to be subject matter close to Welsh's heart, and he gives it a surprisingly sympathetic treatment. The other stories range all over the place, but have enough energy to make up for a lack of direction. Gotta love Irv. You just gotta.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By lazza on July 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
Irvine Welsh novels are definitely not for everyone. He is the "champion" of the poor, uneducated urban junkies of Edinburgh (Scotland). Since he writes in the first person, his books are, in effect, stories about junkies as told by junkies. The language is vile, the stories are frequently disgusting and depraved. Yet all this shock treatment is not gratuitous; all the stories strike me as oh-too-realistic, as if Mr. Welsh has lived in the gutter with these misfits. After the shock wears off, one is generally left with a feeling of compassion for these poor addicts (there but the grace of God...).
The Acid House differs somewhat from the author's other novels. It is actually a collection of short stories, plus a novella. While remaining true to general cause (ie, the plight of the junkie), some stories are rather weak (fortunately, these stories are very short indeed). Others are most memorable, with very clever endings (..I refer you to Irvine Welsh's masterpiece, Filth, for a really good ending!).
So The Acid House is the perfect read for Irvine Welsh fans. For others, be prepared for vile language, and sometimes incomprehensible language (..Scottish dialect). And parents, don't even THINK about letting your kids touch this or any other Irvine Welsh book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
In comparison with the majority of authors, comtemporary or otherwise, whose works I have read, the stories portrayed by Welsh in 'The Acid House' are done so with amazing talent. It was with delight, after despairing of ever again finding a bit of literature to satisfy my boredom or appeal to my senses, that I was suddenly captivated and totally enthralled by Welsh's flair, unpolished diction, perfectly familiar subject matter, clever humour, and wonderfully cynical insight. Here's an example of the language for your discretion:
There was a shuddering bang and Whitworth seemed to vanish into the house. For an instant, it was like some kind of theatrical illusion, as if he was never there. In that split second, I thought I'd been the victim of an orchestrated wind-up between Gal and Tony Whitworth. I even started laughing. Then I looked into the lobby. Tony Whitworth's convulsing body lay there. What once was his face was now a broken, crushed mass of blood and grey matter.
In any case, to read this book is to take the risk of being drawn into the inescapable trap that Welsh craftily sets for his readers and to be caught in it right to the end of the book, at which point you're left in a sort of withdrawal that can't be any worse mentally than breaking a junk habit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nathan on May 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
A young man loses his job, home, and girlfriend, meets God in the pub and turns into a household fly. This is a typical plot outline from this hilarious, disturbing, amoral collection of short stories. Welsh is unflinching in his portrayl of the dissafected working class Scotts, whos appetites for narcotic debauchery is as vigourous as their weather is dull.
Devoid of any tangible ethical stance, the gritty realism of these stories will speak for themselves. And speak they most certainly do with Welshs customary brilliant pen for transcribing the Scottish vernacular. The book sorely needs a glossary though; lines such as "wis ootay order", may estrange American eyes.
The richness and sheer impact of these stories, make them prime candidates for rereading in the tradition of those other fine writers on the British working classes, Orwell and Silitoe.
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