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The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs: A Novel Paperback – May 17, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Welsh, who will probably never live down Trainspotting (1993), gets considerable comic mileage from dual Edinburgh protagonists and their disparate perspectives. Danny Skinner is the bad boy of the local restaurant inspection office, partying hearty, keeping irregular hours and doing just enough to keep a tenuous hold on his job and on longtime girlfriend Kay, a dancer. The arrival at the office of eager-to-please Brian Kibby, a virginal nerd fresh from university, completely throws off Danny's game and draws his unmitigated ire ("Another fucking clone, another Foy arse-licking sycophant"). As Brian's father lays dying, Danny, who never knew his father, sets out to discover his father's identity; meanwhile, smarmy celebrity chef Alan De Fretais, with his filthy kitchen, brings things to a buddy-movie flashpoint. With plenty of plot movement"Danny journeys to America; Brian falls prey to a mysterious illness that requires Danny to really function at work"and rich characters, the novel keeps the reader entertained with a full-bodied (those kitchens are hot and cramped) view of life's ironies. It's eminently filmable, but not in the manner of its illustrious predecessor; Welsh's expansive storytelling and archly imaginative humor now suggest a more aggro John Irving. 7-city author tour. (Aug. 7)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

In his latest opus, Welsh takes on the world of restaurants, which, as anyone familiar with Anthony Bourdain knows, is only barely removed from Welsh's accustomed territory of drug-using young people with shallow vision, limited possibilities, and stunted vocabulary. Instead of a chef, Welsh has chosen as his protagonist a restaurant inspector whose life takes him out of Edinburgh to San Francisco. Danny Skinner seeks the identity of his father, hoping that that this knowledge will help him make better sense of his life and somehow save him from his uncontrollable obsessions with hard liquor and wild women. Brian Kibby, Skinner's professional colleague yet his opposite in so many other ways, stands for attitudes and aspirations that enrage Skinner. American readers will find Welsh's extensive, unrelenting recording of Scottish dialect and other British patois a barrier to comprehension without aid of an accompanying glossary. Welsh has a remarkable gift for setting and for dialogue, as long as the reader can stomach ubiquitous, unrelenting repetition of vulgarities. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (May 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393329666
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393329667
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,206,984 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

The ending also was predictable and a bit too rushed.
J. Hansen
The perfect combination of the sordid and sweet with magical voodoo undertones.
David J. Dagostino
When I finally hit the end, I prayed that it wouldn't be the obvious.
colleen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Wheelchair Assassin on September 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Before I get into the meat of this review, let me just get this statement out of the way: Irvine Welsh is, flat-out, a brilliant writer, matching deep-seated insights into his characters with a prose style that could make a Wendy's menu look interesting (well, moreso) and even when his plots drag a bit his gift for crafting memorable, quotable dialogue and penetrating inner monologues is more than enough to keep pages turning. His latest, The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs, is (cliche alert) a somewhat more mature work than such early Welsh classics as Trainspotting and Filth, but still quintessential Welsh all the way: intelligent, profane, and all-around bizarre. There are still plenty of depictions of sex, boozing, and drug use, peppered with the usual heavy dose of naughty language, and topped off near the end with a (sexual) set piece so disturbing it almost made me lose my lunch all over some fellow commuters on the train ride home. Beneath its rampant vulgarity, though, The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs is sort of a quietly devastating story, exploring the darker recesses of the human mind without getting too bogged down in the results to have a sense of humor about it.

The two principal characters (and, to a lesser extent, some of the ancillary characters) are both well-fleshed out and multi-dimensional, helped by Welsh's decision to jump back and forth between third- and first-person narrative. After a brief prologue establishing the circumstances surrounding his conception, we're first introduced to Danny Skinner, a fatherless young restaurant inspector in Edinburgh living a somewhat typical aimless twenty-something life filled with sex, drugs, and an almost unfathomable amount of alcohol.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By PCM2 on September 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A new novel from Irvine Welsh is always welcome, and after revisiting familiar territory in "Porno" it's nice to see him take a stab in a new direction, even if it's not entirely successful. This one is sort of a warped take on the Dorian Gray theme, with two young Edinburgh men sinking into a bitter rivalry that manifests itself in, believe it or not, a strange curse of transferrence: All the ill effects of the drink, drugs, and sex that are the habits of incorrigible Danny Skinner manifest themselves not in Skinner but in his rival, the nerdy and introverted Brian Kibby. As the truth begins to dawn on him, Kibby vows revenge.

Unfortunately, the writing here just isn't up to par with some of Welsh's other works. The multiple narrators he used to great effect in "Porno" appear again here, but in "Bedroom Secrets" he handles them less deftly. Minor characters appear, are introduced by first and last name, give some details of their day, narrate about eight paragraphs of the story, and then disappear, never to be heard from again. What's more, Welsh introduces an additional, omniscient narrator, who relates the events from a perspective outside that of any of the characters -- only to drop back into one of the character's first-person narratives in an italic aside, then drop back out again. On the whole, it becomes a case of "too many cooks."

Welsh doesn't rely so heavily on the Scots dialect he has become famous for. While this was a great choice -- he's in danger of stereotyping himself -- he's obviously less at home with a "straight" narrative. Much of it seems forced, and it's plagued by odd turns of phrase and strained, mixed metaphors ("Skinner felt something cold bite into him, like a giant insect was crushing his torso in its jaws" -- a particularly cold insect?).
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Format: Hardcover
Danny Skinner, an Environmental Health Officer at Edinburgh City Council is a young man of some merit, but ever more inclined to squander his nights at the local pub, on the fast track to his own destruction. Skinner is currently reading a book by a local chef, Adam de Fretais, The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs, purporting that the master chef is an alchemist, a magician, "his concoctions designed to... attend to the far more wondrous task of uplifting the soul." Meeting de Fretais for an inspection, Danny immediately detests the plump, overbearing chef, his kitchen filthy, although Skinner's superior refuses to allow a condemnation of the popular chef's restaurant.

Danny is introduced to his nemesis, Brian Kibby, on the job and literally has no clue why he develops such a raging antipathy toward the new employee, as the two could not be more dissimilar. Eerily disassociated from himself, caught up in drinking bouts and flirtations with the dark side of his nature, Skinner muses, "It was like it had happened to someone else", his world taking yet another erratic turn, Kibby hovering around the edges of his consciousness. Skinner's life is spinning out of control, his drinking excessive of late, his relationship with dancer-girlfriend Kay threatened by his recent behavior and his unwillingness to decrease his alcohol intake.

Newly engaged to Kay, Skinner is outraged when Kibby appears on the scene, the first to witness his joy. In a burst of temper, Skinner destroys what he most desires, his fiancé finally fed up with his drunken debauchery. Further complicating his troubles, Danny is adamant that his mother reveal his father's name, but all she will admit is that he was once a chef at the Archangel.
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