Reviews > Published on February 2nd, 2015

Bookshots: 'The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins' by Irvine Welsh

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins

Who Wrote It?

You know bloody well who wrote it, ya fuckin' nonce! Irvine Welsh, filthy author of such filthy books as Filth, and a little book called Trainspotting.

'Sex Lives' gives just as many fucks as any of Welsh's earlier works: NONE.

Plot in a Box:

Despite the lurid title, Sex Lives is only tangentially concerned with the carnal proclivities of conjoined persons. A fitness trainer saves the day by preventing a murder, only to discover the man she has played Good Samaritan to is a child rapist. Through this she meets the client of her dreams/nightmares and goes donkey-balls crazy.

Invent a new title for this book:

Ying and Yang Chang and Eng

Read this if you liked:

Welsh in general, Pumping Iron, awful people, Chemical Pink by Katie Arnoldi, Body by Harry Crews.

Meet the book's lead(s):

Psychotic fitness freak Lucy Brennan, who is the closest Welsh has ever come to writing a female Begbie.

Lena Sorenson, brilliant artist slash tubby sack of woe-is-me.

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

Michelle Rodriguez has the appropriate combination of sexy and tough for Lucy, and Lena would be the perfect role to help Melissa McCarthy break out of her shitty-comedy rut—but she would have to commit to some reverse De Niro type weight loss for the end. I smell Oscar!

Setting: Would you want to live there?

Nope. Miami is like someone took the worst parts of LA and the Jersey Shore and mashed them together. P. Diddles (the P is for Party!) and the Latin guidos can have it*.

What was your favorite sentence?

It shows the actors Kristen Stewart and Megan Fox attached from the hip up, sitting on a park bench, snootily turned away from each other. Ryan Reynolds stands behind them, looking on in hapless appeal. It has the split logline:

Two Feisty Girls
One Smokin' Hot Body
Big Trouble

The Verdict:

This is Welsh's second Miami-set novel and the first to feature an entirely Scot-free cast. While reading it, you may find yourself wondering: Who the hell does this cheeky foreigner thinks he is? He may know a thing or two about dirt bag Scots, but how dare he presume to understand dirt bag Americans? Well, I've got news for you, sweetie-pie, Welsh has slowly been distancing himself from the motherland for a while—both on the page and in real life. Miami is one of the places he calls home now—and he has those fools DEAD RIGHT.* So put that in your juicer and drink it.

So if you've always wanted to read Welsh but were scared off by the accents, this is the place to start. Good news: the man has not softened with age. Sex Lives gives just as many fucks as any of Welsh's earlier works: NONE. The characters are equally reprehensible, the scenarios equally over the top (if not more so). But, if I may qualify that statement, it's also got heart. Or, at least, a shriveled arrhythmic version of it.

This is a messy novel about messy lives. It is borderline schizo, which I know is a commonly misused term, but saying "borderline borderline personality disorder" just doesn't work in reference to a book, let alone in a sentence. It is about completely different people and their similarities, as well as identical people who couldn't be more different. Along the way these personalities evolve, cross spectrum, their differences converging towards the center, before passing each other going in the opposite direction, leaving the reader wondering who is crazy and who is sane. (Hint: They're all crazy.) If that doesn't make any sense, let's just say Sex Lives is a blistering parody of fitness culture, the art world, and the hypothetical place where the two collide.

*Full disclosure: Everything I know about Miami I learned from Scarface and rap videos. I have never actually been.

About the author

Joshua Chaplinsky is the Managing Editor of LitReactor. He is the author of The Paradox Twins (CLASH Books), the story collection Whispers in the Ear of A Dreaming Ape, and the parody Kanye West—Reanimator. His short fiction has been published by Vice, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Thuglit, Severed Press, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, Broken River Books, and more. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @jaceycockrobin. More info at and

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