‘The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins’ is the latest book by the brilliant Scottish writer Irvine Welsh. Renowned for his explicit and sometimes rather discomforting style of writing, this book features all the classic traits of a Welsh novel. Whilst this is not his first novel set in America, it is the first to feature an all-American cast and to be told through two strong female leading characters.
The title suggests descriptions of explicit sex scenes of Siamese twins. However, the Siamese twins storyline is a backdrop to the story of Lucy Brennan and Lena Sorensen; the former a fitness instructor and the latter a previously successful artist. Throughout the novel the decision of twins Annabel and Amy to separate so that Annabel can have a normal sexual relationship with her boyfriend is played out on the news. It also feeds into the decisions made by Lucy and Lena and their own relationship.
Lucy is a strong, no nonsense character who is shockingly foul-mouthed and completely intolerant of anybody with an ounce of fat on them. She is so bad-ass that she manages to disarm a gunman on a Florida causeway. This pivotal moment in the book introduces the retiring, overweight Lena who catches the incident on her phone and immediately sends it in to the local news station. Lucy then becomes something of a celebrity figure and the email correspondence between her and her agent whilst in the midst of clinching a TV deal are, quite frankly, hilarious. It is when Lena signs up at the gym that Lucy works at that things start to really heat up, however, and their relationship evolves from trainer/trainee into something more, but not before a kidnapping and a dramatic food show-down takes place.
Welsh has used this book as a medium for criticism of American culture. A culture we all know to be obsessed with consumption, weight and aesthetics. While Lucy is obsessed with the consumption of the “correct” foods and is constantly tallying up her calorie intake, Lena is obsessed with wrapping herself up in a food duvet as a source of comfort and refuge from her life. Furthermore, Welsh has demonstrated that sport and art can complement one another with this story, which something I had never really considered before.
‘The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins’ is a hilarious and blatant f***ed-up criticism of everything we know to be an engrained part of American culture. Welsh has not disappointed in the slightest and has created his best female characters yet.