cover image The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins

The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins

Irvine Welsh. Doubleday, $26 (368p) ISBN 978-0-385-53938-8

In his latest, a reliably maniacal spin on the Pygmalion tale, Welsh (Skagboys) leaves his familiar Edinburgh for Miami Beach, a “sun-drenched refuge for strutting grotesques and desperate narcissists.” Lucy Brennan is a tough, foulmouthed, sadistic, bisexual personal trainer who, when she’s not finding novel ways to insult her clients and hitting Miami’s nightclubs, diligently tracks her calories with an app called Lifemap. She becomes a media sensation when Lena Sorenson, an overweight, immensely successful artist sorely lacking in self-confidence, records her heroically intervening to stop a murderous assault. As for Lena, Lucy’s newly enamored admirer, her sculptures imagine “future humans” as we might evolve in millions of years. Thus the two dissimilar, damaged women are less opposites than unlikely twins, both sculptor and trainer being “in the molding business.” Lena hires Lucy to help her lose weight, a task that Lucy, at once repulsed by and attracted to her charge, takes outlandishly criminal steps to accomplish. The satirical jibes at an America “swamp[ed] in blubber” are entertaining enough, but the novel is less effective at fleshing out its over-the-top and badly behaving comic caricatures. Listening to the libidinous Lucy’s vulgar diatribes wears thin, and occasionally feels a little too like one of those exhausting workouts of which this antiheroine would certainly approve. (Feb.)