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Filth

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With the Christmas season upon him, Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson of Edinburgh's finest is gearing up socially—kicking things off with a week of sex and drugs in Amsterdam. There are some sizable flies in the ointment, though: a missing wife and child, a nagging cocaine habit, some painful below-the-belt eczema, and a string of demanding extramarital affairs. The last With the Christmas season upon him, Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson of Edinburgh's finest is gearing up socially—kicking things off with a week of sex and drugs in Amsterdam. There are some sizable flies in the ointment, though: a missing wife and child, a nagging cocaine habit, some painful below-the-belt eczema, and a string of demanding extramarital affairs. The last thing Robertson needs is a messy, racially fraught murder, even if it means overtime—and the opportunity to clinch the promotion he craves. Then there's that nutritionally demanding (and psychologically acute) intestinal parasite in his gut. Yes, things are going badly for this utterly corrupt tribune of the law, but in an Irvine Welsh novel nothing is ever so bad that it can't get a whole lot worse. . .


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With the Christmas season upon him, Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson of Edinburgh's finest is gearing up socially—kicking things off with a week of sex and drugs in Amsterdam. There are some sizable flies in the ointment, though: a missing wife and child, a nagging cocaine habit, some painful below-the-belt eczema, and a string of demanding extramarital affairs. The last With the Christmas season upon him, Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson of Edinburgh's finest is gearing up socially—kicking things off with a week of sex and drugs in Amsterdam. There are some sizable flies in the ointment, though: a missing wife and child, a nagging cocaine habit, some painful below-the-belt eczema, and a string of demanding extramarital affairs. The last thing Robertson needs is a messy, racially fraught murder, even if it means overtime—and the opportunity to clinch the promotion he craves. Then there's that nutritionally demanding (and psychologically acute) intestinal parasite in his gut. Yes, things are going badly for this utterly corrupt tribune of the law, but in an Irvine Welsh novel nothing is ever so bad that it can't get a whole lot worse. . .

30 review for Filth

  1. 4 out of 5

    Carlos Lavín

    The ending, the damn ending to the book. It’s been like five years since I last cried with a book, I actually had to step out of the office (I started reading the book on the bus ride to work, I had 20~ pages to go when I arrived and I sure as hell wasn't going to stop reading) and to the bathroom to try and cool myself down (view spoiler)[when I read the last two pages (hide spoiler)] . The book is disgusting in every imaginable way, but it somehow keeps you going. Even though the situations he p The ending, the damn ending to the book. It’s been like five years since I last cried with a book, I actually had to step out of the office (I started reading the book on the bus ride to work, I had 20~ pages to go when I arrived and I sure as hell wasn't going to stop reading) and to the bathroom to try and cool myself down (view spoiler)[when I read the last two pages (hide spoiler)] . The book is disgusting in every imaginable way, but it somehow keeps you going. Even though the situations he puts himself into are a bit on the surreal side, the main character himself is actually a quite realistic human asshole and very few times falls under the caricaturized version of evil. (view spoiler)[The last 80~ pages, the whole humanization process of the policeman previously known as the asshole, turning him from something you despise into someone you feel pity for, and even partially understand why he is the way he is. You end up somehow vicariously caring about this sorry broken man for all the shit that (at first because life’s just a bitch, then because he was just an ass) he’s had to endure. (hide spoiler)] And I mean, the caring up until you’re actually crying, that’s no small feat of Mr. Welsh here. Those final chapters were simply amazing. I was thinking it was an okay book until I, we, I got there. I'm glad I chose this book as an introduction into Welsh's writing, I'm quite sure I'll revisit more of his work once I feel my gut is up to it again. Because while I'm glad I grabbed these book, I'm just ecstatic about the fact that I can finally put it down and stop reading about the pure gross-ness behind the adventures of a Mr. Bruce Robertson.

  2. 5 out of 5

    F

    Loved this. Read it when i was in 4th year so I was maybe 15 or 16. Film was amazing too.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Shamus McCarty

    Use quotation marks you limey bastard!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Baba

    Ne'er has a book been more aptly named as we read from the viewpoint of the head (and stomach!) of Borders & Lothians Detective, Bruce Robertson, who is the main lead in an investigation of a possible racially aggravated murder on the streets of Edinburgh. Bruce however is more concerned in continuing his love of debauchery, manipulation and personal hate of pretty much everything! A trigger fest of sex, harassment, violence, narcotic use, corruption, law-breaking and Freemason (secret society) Ne'er has a book been more aptly named as we read from the viewpoint of the head (and stomach!) of Borders & Lothians Detective, Bruce Robertson, who is the main lead in an investigation of a possible racially aggravated murder on the streets of Edinburgh. Bruce however is more concerned in continuing his love of debauchery, manipulation and personal hate of pretty much everything! A trigger fest of sex, harassment, violence, narcotic use, corruption, law-breaking and Freemason (secret society) membership ensues. Meet Bruce Robertson: Somehow Welsh takes this ongoing never-ending onslaught of hateful behaviour and makes it a story that you get absorbed in, and can't let go of, despite loathing Bruce from beginning to end. Great work! 8.5 out of 12.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nat K

    filth Slang for police or law enforcement officers (UK English). "Cor blimey, run! It's the filth!" DS Bruce “Robbo” Robertson is appalling. He has no redeeming - nor redemptive - features. He’s just one writhing ball of vile, acrid nastiness. From the racism, to the sexism, to the chauvinism (name an “ism” and Robbo’s got the t-shirt), to the disgusting “hooring”, and slap dash approach to policing, it’s no wonder he has some digestive problems. Not helped by a bit of a nose candy problem and a filth Slang for police or law enforcement officers (UK English). "Cor blimey, run! It's the filth!" DS Bruce “Robbo” Robertson is appalling. He has no redeeming - nor redemptive - features. He’s just one writhing ball of vile, acrid nastiness. From the racism, to the sexism, to the chauvinism (name an “ism” and Robbo’s got the t-shirt), to the disgusting “hooring”, and slap dash approach to policing, it’s no wonder he has some digestive problems. Not helped by a bit of a nose candy problem and abject sleeplessness from doing all the overtime under the sun, without doing too much actual work. But Robbo has big plans. Get this mysterious rash under control, stop the itch in his nether regions that causes him to scratch til he bleeds, and head off to Amsterdam for his yearly holiday. A week relaxing at his favourite red light district. Then it’s time to get the coveted Detective Inspector role. The one that should’ve been his six years ago. What could get in his way? Just an awkward murder to solve...how inconvenient. ” One of my mottoes aboot the job is: better you wasting some cunt else’s time that some cunt wasting your time.” Way to go Robbo. It's certainly not sunshine and cupcakes when you pick up an Irvine Welsh book. And this one doesn't disappoint. Filth it is, on so many levels. Bruce Robertson is one of the most appalling characters I’ve read in a novel. And it’s the only word I could think to describe him when discussing this book with Bill, who I buddy read this with (*waves*). In fact, I think I wore out the word, as I used it that often. He’s a bully, he’s objectionable, he treats friends and foe with the same layer of disdain and contempt. He’s always playing “the game”. ” Woke up this morning. Woke up into the job. The games are always, repeat, always being played.” There was one moment, a nano-second where I thought a heart was beating in there somewhere. Robbo attempts to give the kiss of life to a gentleman who had a heart attack in front of him. I actually thought there was a flesh and blood human behind the mask. But that soon was over, as he reverts to his old, appalling self. It’s been a long time since I last read an Irvine Welsh novel. I’d forgotten how incredibly sharp they are. And emotionally exhausting. Talk about a palate cleanser. But with industrial strength bleach rather than a zingy sorbet. Welsh writes about such nastiness. Nasty people doing nasty things. There are situations that are so equally outrageous and abhorrent, that they had me simultaneously squirming while at the same time letting out the occasional chuckle. And gasps of shock. The dialogue and events are so dark. As much as I wanted to turn the page to find what dastardly deed Robbo got up to next, I felt uncomfortable at wanting to know. This is shameless and not for the easily offended. But for all its outrageousness, this is a complex novel that digs deep into the ugly side of the human soul. Push the smut to one side. Actions have consequences. And even bullies were once bairns*. And in all honesty, how do we expect frontline workers (coppers/ firies/ ambos/ nurses and all the others) to not be a little off kilter with all they have to deal with daily. From the stuff we dish out. The ending was not what I was expecting at all. It came completely left of centre. Even for a book containing every misery and disgusting behaviour you can think of, this was beyond what I was expecting. I was shocked. There’s no other way to describe it. Confronting. I can’t even begin to convey the sense of dismay I felt. The true meaning of "filth". This was not a joke anymore. The final chapters of the book took on a seriousness that was difficult to deal with, and incongruous to the warped speed the rest of the book drove at. I cannot stress enough how much the ending shook me. It left me NUMB. I can't say I enjoyed this book. "Enjoy" seems too light hearted a word for such dark matter. Bill helped me out with saying I "experienced" it. What an experience. Oh my goodness, I have this to carry round in my head. Too many trigger warnings to list. This book is one long trigger warning, from beginning to end. You know it’s Irvine Welsh. You know what you’ll be in for. You don’t need to be warned. You proceed at your own risk. ”And so I quit the police department And got myself a steady job” - She Came In Through the Bathroom Window, Abbey Road, The Beatles *** Buddy read with my good mate Bill, who has recently been immersing himself in some good old UK gritty crime novels. With a twist. First Ken Bruen, now Irvine Welsh. What an education. Please make sure you check out Bill’s review, as he raises some interesting points. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... We’ll be hopping over to Ireland and joining our friend Bunny McGarry soon. That should be fun. *** * Bairns = children

  6. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    I'm so glad I listen to my friend's book recommendations sometimes... 'FILTH' is the story of Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson, and the first thing you should know about him is that he's a complete and utter Bastard. During the build up to Christmas the race is on for the much desired Detective Inspector position and Bruce is adamant that he is going to be the one. Now if that means he's got to: lie, cheat, steal, manipulate and back-stab his way there, then you can safely bet that he will. The I'm so glad I listen to my friend's book recommendations sometimes... 'FILTH' is the story of Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson, and the first thing you should know about him is that he's a complete and utter Bastard. During the build up to Christmas the race is on for the much desired Detective Inspector position and Bruce is adamant that he is going to be the one. Now if that means he's got to: lie, cheat, steal, manipulate and back-stab his way there, then you can safely bet that he will. The media sensitive murder investigation of a black tourist might cause some trouble, but that's not going to stop him enjoying his week holiday of drinking and whoring in the 'Dam! It is refreshing from time to time to read a first person perspective of a complete and utter Cunt. He is a user, a misogynist, a racist, a drug user, and an abuser. All the things (most) people aren't. And he's unashamedly so as well, he has no qualms with lying or betraying his friends in his selfish designs. Bruce Robertson is the type of controversial character that although despicable you just can't ignore. He is just so reprehensible and disgusting, and that's before we get onto the rash on his cock or the tapeworm growing in his stomach. A truly inspired idea to give consciousness to the Tapeworm. Bruce is all but lacking a conscience. There is no Jiminy Cricket sitting on his shoulder telling him right from wrong, but there is a Tapeworm who refers to itself as The Self. Like the reader, the Tapeworm learns more and more about Bruce as the book continues. In the end it's the worm who is Bruce's advocate and perhaps last remaining meaningful contact as Bruce has all but fucked over every human being he has came across. Despite the drugs, meaningless affairs, betrayals and tortures 'Filth' is actually very funny. Irvine Welsh has a flair for dialogue that cuts to the bone and a writing style that engrosses the reader. Forthright and unabashed in it's overtly controversial opinions, it stands out like the best stand up comedian. Daring to be dark, disgusting, and horrible; saying and doing things so that the reader (or any well adjusted member of society) does not have to. I'm glad my friends put me onto this book otherwise I might never have picked it up. Irvine Welsh is better known for his more famous novel, 'Trainspotting', something which is more of a story OUT of darkness. 'Filth' is the opposite, it is a descent INTO darkness. A story of loss told through abuse, consumption, self loathing and Tapeworms. You are unlikely to find a book like it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lily S.

    "Same rules apply." I needed a book I could finally rate 5 stars. As many said before me the book perfectly corresponds to the title; filth. There is nothing I've read before that so perfectly illustrates utter and complete burn out. Our protagonist, Bruce is a cop whose life is in ruins, his wife left him, he drinks, takes drugs and fucks whores, on top of that there is eczema all over his privates and a tapeworm in his guts. Reading this is like fast forwarding on a nightmare where the same ele "Same rules apply." I needed a book I could finally rate 5 stars. As many said before me the book perfectly corresponds to the title; filth. There is nothing I've read before that so perfectly illustrates utter and complete burn out. Our protagonist, Bruce is a cop whose life is in ruins, his wife left him, he drinks, takes drugs and fucks whores, on top of that there is eczema all over his privates and a tapeworm in his guts. Reading this is like fast forwarding on a nightmare where the same elements keep repeating and everything spirals out of control slowly. Bruce hates everything and everyone and his only joy left is making people's live hell around him with perfectly planned scheming. Most if not all of his thoughts are racist, misogynistic,homophobic, hateful, angry and nihilistic. At a certain point the only sound of reason is the tapeworm inside him. The ending brings a true catharsis, it shows that the things that happened weren't just pointless rants from the writer and one could close the book with a sense of every piece falling to its place. Welsh's writing is incredibly powerful, it swept me away and I kept reading it compulsively to the very last page. I'm certain that this book is a masterpiece in its own way.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Steven Stennett

    I have never been so glad to finish a book. Great writer, and I found bits of it funny, but my overriding impression of the whole experience of reading it, was one of deep depression! I am glad to say that I will never have to do that again!!!

  9. 4 out of 5

    crίѕтίŋα•●♥Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ♥●•

    3.5 stars “One of my mottoes aboot the job is: better you wasting some cunt else’s time than some cunt wasting your time.” - D.S. Bruce Robertson * * * “In a sense we are together because nothing, space, time, distance whatever, can break the delicious communion between us.” - Carole

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

    Absolutely my favorite Welsh read.I loved the humor and Bruce was so relateable(to me and my type of humor) but sort of over-the-top in his slurs towards many controvercial subjects which only made me giggle,tsk and shake my head.He thought many of the things people would never admit to thinking in their own heads so they just right off the book as its namesake and dont read any further. But I loved the shocking twist and its completely original narrative style. And how Bruce and the tapeworm sl Absolutely my favorite Welsh read.I loved the humor and Bruce was so relateable(to me and my type of humor) but sort of over-the-top in his slurs towards many controvercial subjects which only made me giggle,tsk and shake my head.He thought many of the things people would never admit to thinking in their own heads so they just right off the book as its namesake and dont read any further. But I loved the shocking twist and its completely original narrative style. And how Bruce and the tapeworm slowly were submerging until the tapeworm got louder until both ineviteablye died was brilliant in the overall feeling of human waste taking over.I felt like I needed a shower after every read but I never grew bored or offended enough to put it down. Bruce reminded me of a dirty Scottish version Patrick Bateman.I love Irvine's style and his straight fowardness.He never holds back and isnt afraid to take a dip in the filth of human exsistance that everyone denies but what ulitimately make us human.I would recommend it to any cynical,dry humored reader like myself and can say that those of us would enjoy it thoroughly.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    I love Irvine Welsh. I loved this novel, but I can see why some people might not like it so much. It is very, very ugly. The main character reminds me a great deal of my Dad. Well my Dad wasn't a corrupt cop, he was a lawyer, but he always struggled with his working class background and wanting to leave it behind. Telling you the most brilliant thing about this novel would spoil the whole thing. So I will only say this: Welsh presents the main character in a very complex way, and he is not a lik I love Irvine Welsh. I loved this novel, but I can see why some people might not like it so much. It is very, very ugly. The main character reminds me a great deal of my Dad. Well my Dad wasn't a corrupt cop, he was a lawyer, but he always struggled with his working class background and wanting to leave it behind. Telling you the most brilliant thing about this novel would spoil the whole thing. So I will only say this: Welsh presents the main character in a very complex way, and he is not a likable guy. But ultimately you have decide is he a monster, a victim, or what? Welsh experiments with intestinal worms. I am not sure whether it really works. Well some of the best parts of the story are in the intestinal worms, and it definitely drives home the message: you are what you eat. But then they make the story fragmented and confusing. Still you have to figure that someone as coke addled and sleep deprived as the main character of this tale is going to experience life as confusing and fragmented. This is a great book, but its very twisted. Some people, whose opinions I respect very much, feel that it is so twisted that it is ruined by virtue of its twistedness. Your call.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Xandra

    A few years back I was watching some pissed off religious zealot going all loony on TV because gays were having their pride parade (oh, the horror!) and proposing they should all be sent to the desert or be given a country - Australia, he suggested (!!) - to inhabit. Maybe I should have been outraged, but I couldn't stop laughing to tears at the poor ignorant fool and his unbelievable stupidity. Some people are so deranged, you just can't take them seriously. My reaction to Bruce Robertson was no A few years back I was watching some pissed off religious zealot going all loony on TV because gays were having their pride parade (oh, the horror!) and proposing they should all be sent to the desert or be given a country - Australia, he suggested (!!) - to inhabit. Maybe I should have been outraged, but I couldn't stop laughing to tears at the poor ignorant fool and his unbelievable stupidity. Some people are so deranged, you just can't take them seriously. My reaction to Bruce Robertson was not much different. Yes, he's a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a cokehead, a liar, a scum. Everything you despise in a human being. He's the lowest form of life possible. His words, thoughts and actions end up with you angry and repulsed and swallowing back a bit of your own vomit. You sure don't empathize with him because you're a decent human being who's been sheltered from this kind of behaviour and lived surrounded by nice people your whole life. And if you can't empathize with the scumbag character you might not like the book. You might even fall into a trap and get the impression that the book promotes hatred and glamorizes despicable behavior. But I think the difference between right and wrong is clearly defined here: it's wrong what Bruce thinks and does, it's right what Bruce says mockingly, when he contradicts his own regular dirty thoughts. Thoughts that are not beliefs, though. They're just a form of self-defense, because at his (deep) core, Bruce is not as horrible as he appears. Bruce is not to be taken seriously, he's not where you draw your morals from (that would be Drummond, his antagonist). You just pity him or point at him and laugh at his ignorance. Did you know this is being made into a movie starring James McAvoy and Jamie Bell?

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sal

    There are several reasons why I will never forget this book. The main reason is Bruce Robertson, the main character of "Filth". Bruce Robertson is a Police Investigator in Edinburgh. He's also, in every sense of the word, the WORST human being you can imagine. He's depraved, completely void of morality, racist, and worst of all, believes in what he does. Reading this book actually makes you fearful that there are people out there like this in positions of power. His actions are awe-inducing in th There are several reasons why I will never forget this book. The main reason is Bruce Robertson, the main character of "Filth". Bruce Robertson is a Police Investigator in Edinburgh. He's also, in every sense of the word, the WORST human being you can imagine. He's depraved, completely void of morality, racist, and worst of all, believes in what he does. Reading this book actually makes you fearful that there are people out there like this in positions of power. His actions are awe-inducing in their maliciousness. Sometimes they are horrifying. And amazingly, if you "connect" with this book (not everybody will), you will actually laugh out loud. Sometimes at yourself when you come to the realization that you are actually finding humor in his actions. In my adventures of reading modern fiction, I don't think I've ever come across such a horrible creation such as Bruce Robertson. He is filth. That said, what a thrill this book was, and what a thrill it is to discover a novelist such as Irvine Welsh! He's drunk on the possibilities of language, and that's what makes this book so special. He makes it bearable to co-exist with Bruce Robertson for almost 400 pages because he writes in such a way that gets you on the same wavelength as his character. And as Bruce finds justification in his actions and philosophies, even if you don't as a reader, you are still right there with him the entire time. The Scottish dialect is easy to get used to, and adds so much to the authenticity and grit to the story. Couple all of this with a truly satisfying ending, and this is one of the most fun and memorable reads I've come across. I'll surely be seeking out more Irvine Welsh to read as well. Update: 24 hours have passesd since I finished "Filth" and wrote the review above. As the book continues to linger on my mind, I find myself feeling more and more sympathy for Bruce. Truly the mark of a good book...that it remains with you and continues to make you think.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Gavin

    A good book, following the exploits of the world's second worst police officer through the things he does. Unfortunately the main character is so difficult to relate to (he does the most awful things for no reason other than he can/wants to, and I can't understand that) that by the time of his trip to Amsterdam you're left numb. The constant series of horrors (which are entertaining and shocking to begin with) become something that you are accustomed to, the horror you were feeling at his physica A good book, following the exploits of the world's second worst police officer through the things he does. Unfortunately the main character is so difficult to relate to (he does the most awful things for no reason other than he can/wants to, and I can't understand that) that by the time of his trip to Amsterdam you're left numb. The constant series of horrors (which are entertaining and shocking to begin with) become something that you are accustomed to, the horror you were feeling at his physical/mental state and his actions towards others to begin with becomes dull. Maybe this is a statement in itself about human nature when faced with atrocities over which we have no control, like the heavy descriptive prose in American Psycho, but like AP, the point had been made quite a while before anything came of it. However, you can see I've given it four stars, and this is because the last hundred pages are truly excellent. And the book absolutely stands up as an entertaining and worthwhile read because of it. Slug through the middle and the rewards are worth the wait.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Potts

    'Filth' sucks you deep into the disturbed, poetic, perverted, brilliant and fevered brain of Detective Sargent Bruce 'Robbo' Robertson. Bruce is in line for a big promotion to DI, and will stop at nothing to get it. Eliminating the competition with psychopathic precision, whilst indulging in his own sordid urges (booze, sex, cocaine and a bit of the old ultraviolence), it seems hard to make this character relatable or even that likeable. However, through Welsh's horrific but poignant stream-of-c 'Filth' sucks you deep into the disturbed, poetic, perverted, brilliant and fevered brain of Detective Sargent Bruce 'Robbo' Robertson. Bruce is in line for a big promotion to DI, and will stop at nothing to get it. Eliminating the competition with psychopathic precision, whilst indulging in his own sordid urges (booze, sex, cocaine and a bit of the old ultraviolence), it seems hard to make this character relatable or even that likeable. However, through Welsh's horrific but poignant stream-of-consciousness writing, Bruce is not only irresistibly interesting, but also tragically pitiable. As we hear Bruce's traumatic origins (narrated by the self-conscious tapeworm swimming through our misogynistic anti-hero's belly), he becomes less of an amoral Dracula and more like a miserable Frankenstein's Monster. For me, THIS was the most intriguing part of the story. (SPOILERS) The bastard son of the serial rapist 'The Beast' who raped his young mother, Bruce was treated as such by his father and pretty much everyone else who knew him. All they could see was the face of the demonic criminal who had disgraced an innocent young woman. As his younger brother was basked in attention and love, Bruce was abused, ignored and even forced to eat coal. The worst part for me was that Bruce didn't even seem to know why this was. He would look in the mirror, desperately looking for what everybody else saw in him that was so 'wrong', so 'sick', so 'filthy'. All he could see was a sad, little boy who seemed incapable of being loved by anyone. Going back to my 'Frankenstein' thing, I see The Beast as being the Doctor and Bruce being The Creature, something which should never have been given life, that would be destined to live a cursed life if it did, that would be hated, that would be feared, that would drive everybody who he cares for away from him. When Bruce visits his real father in prison and begins beating on him, I think it is less to do with what he did to his mother and more the fact that he brought him into the world in the first place. He resents his own life. As a result, like the Creature and Milton's Satan, 'evil became (his) good'. At the end of the book, Robbo's suicide seems to be a petty way of getting back at his ex-wife. In the recent film adaptation with James McAvoy, however, it seems more like a genuine cat of repentance and redemption, which I think fits in well with this backstory. He sees himself as 'wrong', which ultimately he must put 'right', by ending it... but, that's just my view. The book was fantastic! I was a little disturbed by it at times (and even began questioning my own sanity during my reading of it), but it is a brilliant character study, a black comic tour-de-force and a brilliant introduction to Welsh's twisted, psycho-punk universe!... just try not too get too sucked into Robbo's head... it may be difficult to get out.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brad

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is a review I wrote for the stage version of Filth, starring Tam Dean Burn, at the time he was the only man ever to play the role. It says almost everything I want to say about the book, so I thought it was worth reproducing here. Enjoy: Imagine the best thing you’ve ever done; imagine the most energy you’ve ever expended; imagine the ultimate expression of your greatest skill: now multiply that by a one hundred and it’s a good bet you still won’t even come close to the level of Tam Dean Bu This is a review I wrote for the stage version of Filth, starring Tam Dean Burn, at the time he was the only man ever to play the role. It says almost everything I want to say about the book, so I thought it was worth reproducing here. Enjoy: Imagine the best thing you’ve ever done; imagine the most energy you’ve ever expended; imagine the ultimate expression of your greatest skill: now multiply that by a one hundred and it’s a good bet you still won’t even come close to the level of Tam Dean Burn’s performance in Filth. His performance is not acting. It is transformation. From the moment he struts into his onstage office, briefcase and brown paper bag in hand, lays his first fart and offers advice on how to escape the smell, Tam Dean Burn disappears into the skin and loathsome psyche of Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson. Robertson – the anti-hero of Harry Gibson’s adaptation of Filth, Irvine Welsh’s merciless novel of police corruption – is one of the most vile characters ever to hit the stage. He makes Tartuffe and Richard III look like a couple of petulant schoolboys playing tricks on their neighbours. And, more frightening still, he’s an invisible monster that walks among us. Over the course of a Christmas season Robertson ruins the life of a colleague, starts shagging his friend’s wife, battles an intestinal parasite, snorts a whole mess of coke, bites out a guy’s tongue, engages in a bloodthirsty act of defenestration, and rapes a girl while his partner busts another for the same crime. And this tally only scratches the surface of the sins, bloodshed and hate that find their expression in Burn’s uncompromising performance. The degradation of Detective Sergeant Robertson goes well beyond the physical, however. As Tam Dean Burn taps into each of the thirty-two characters that live in Robertson’s world and mind we come to realize that this filthy cop is not just evil – he is certifiably mad. And Burn internalizes this madness with a physical and mental energy that’s humbling to witness, committing himself fully to being Bruce Robertson. Indeed, once onstage, Burn shows no trace at all of the beneficent actor from Leith who fights for equality and peace. All that’s left is a beast who shifts from perversion to corruption and back again. Yet, somehow, as with the classic misanthropes that Bruce Robertson eclipses, the audience finds themselves empathizing with the mad Detective Sergeant – and maybe even liking him. And therein lies the true effectiveness of Tam Dean Burn’s performance. We witness DS Robertson’s appalling actions, but Burn makes us believe that somewhere inside, beneath all the hate and anger, a good man, a sane man, is struggling for supremacy. Filth takes us right to the precipice, to the edge of lunacy and horror, and Burn pulls us back. In the hands of a lesser actor Welsh’s story could easily spiral out of control. The mirror balls and talking tapeworms, the masturbation and nudity, the ultra violence and disturbing revelations could overwhelm us with hopelessness. But Tam Dean Burn keeps us with him all the way. He makes us believe in the struggling core of Robertson’s goodness, and he shows us that hope can come from even the most tragic events. Filth is not an entertaining play. It’s not an easy play to watch. But the questions and ethical dilemmas it raises are relevant to us all. And it contains the finest stage performance this city has seen. Tam Dean Burn is unparalleled. It’s no wonder Harry Gibson wrote Filth with him in mind.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sridatta

    Irvine Welsh is a freak. If I have to sum up the experience of reading this book in a word, it would be ‘Whirlpool’. Like an object swirling into its abyss, the characters in this novel are sucked into a whirlpool named “Bruce Robertson” and delve deeper into its grip with each page turn. If you are indifferent about this book, you might find a lot of its content repetitive but Irvine Welsh cuts right through a lot of pages with the ferociousness of Edgar Wright montages while unwrapping a new la Irvine Welsh is a freak. If I have to sum up the experience of reading this book in a word, it would be ‘Whirlpool’. Like an object swirling into its abyss, the characters in this novel are sucked into a whirlpool named “Bruce Robertson” and delve deeper into its grip with each page turn. If you are indifferent about this book, you might find a lot of its content repetitive but Irvine Welsh cuts right through a lot of pages with the ferociousness of Edgar Wright montages while unwrapping a new layer of perversity and despair at each turn. To call Bruce Robertson an unconventional hero would be a massive understatement. If you have read any reviews or descriptions of this book, you might find him described as misanthropic, vulgar, racist, manipulative, blah…blah….blah….but what they don’t mention is that he has an infectious sense of fun and is incredibly charming (probably not to the characters but certainly to the readers). While the fiction genre has often taken a stab at inventing it’s version of “fearless protagonist” Irvine Welsh adds his own spin to the idea. With an utter disdain for the consequences of his actions and rudderless nature, Bruce aims to live a life without fear and full of freedom. But it costs him...Dearly. Welsh’s prose does a great job of transporting the reader into his world. I don’t think I was ever compelled to read a book aloud as often as during this one. I wish I could get my hands on some audio book of his. Overall, this is a fun ride. Every bad thing about every person is funny. You just have to get the joke or get on with it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Radwa

    فيديو ريفيو الرواية: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Irtni... It's my first Irvine Welsh read and I'm sure it's the last. This is a novel about Bruce Robertson, an officer who embodies everything that's bad, he mistreats and uses everyone around him in the worst ways. Put that on the side, he's got a worm growing inside him, and we see him changing and "interacting" with that worm. Both the beginning and the ending were great, which I thoroughly enjoyed despite the accent which was extremely hard فيديو ريفيو الرواية: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Irtni... It's my first Irvine Welsh read and I'm sure it's the last. This is a novel about Bruce Robertson, an officer who embodies everything that's bad, he mistreats and uses everyone around him in the worst ways. Put that on the side, he's got a worm growing inside him, and we see him changing and "interacting" with that worm. Both the beginning and the ending were great, which I thoroughly enjoyed despite the accent which was extremely hard for me to read and get through. This is an interesting novel with an interesting concept, the "worm" part definitely added more to the story, since we only manage to know more of Bruce and his history through that worm! My complaints are the accent and the lack of quotation marks (which is a lot!) I was set on giving it two stars, maybe even one, but that ending! earned that three stars

  19. 5 out of 5

    Pan Radek

    actually it's 4,5 stars but 4 would be a disservice anyways very vulgar obscene clever fascinating and pure gross - not a treat for everyone but I don't know why I really liked the anti - hero laughed at his pathetic schemes and jokes and couldn't put the book down. it's not 5 stars since the tapeworm trick was kinda below the expectations and the plot itself was quite simple and not that original. still, it was so much fun! actually it's 4,5 stars but 4 would be a disservice anyways very vulgar obscene clever fascinating and pure gross - not a treat for everyone but I don't know why I really liked the anti - hero laughed at his pathetic schemes and jokes and couldn't put the book down. it's not 5 stars since the tapeworm trick was kinda below the expectations and the plot itself was quite simple and not that original. still, it was so much fun!

  20. 4 out of 5

    John Jackson

    Painful and honest, this is the kind of book that so fully develops a character that you begin to see yourself reflected in his every deed. You begin thinking he's terrible and that we are all better than him, but the end leaves you thinking that we might all just be damaged creatures trying to survive, like cops and criminals, like tapeworms. Painful and honest, this is the kind of book that so fully develops a character that you begin to see yourself reflected in his every deed. You begin thinking he's terrible and that we are all better than him, but the end leaves you thinking that we might all just be damaged creatures trying to survive, like cops and criminals, like tapeworms.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lawrence

    Can you say "Gimmick"? This book was all about gimmicks, and shock-value for shock-value's sake. Which frankly isn't all that interesting to me, especially for three-hundred-odd pages. The main character that Welsh creates is, as the title suggests, utter filth. Racist, sexist, coke-addled, perverted, etc etc etc. The etc's just keep going. Alright already, you don't have to beat us over the head with it. Oh, I guess you do. The gimmick of having part of the story narrated by Main Character's ta Can you say "Gimmick"? This book was all about gimmicks, and shock-value for shock-value's sake. Which frankly isn't all that interesting to me, especially for three-hundred-odd pages. The main character that Welsh creates is, as the title suggests, utter filth. Racist, sexist, coke-addled, perverted, etc etc etc. The etc's just keep going. Alright already, you don't have to beat us over the head with it. Oh, I guess you do. The gimmick of having part of the story narrated by Main Character's tapeworm might have been an interesting gimmick if it hadn't been just one more gimmick in a garbage-ridden sea of gimmicks. Ditto for the Scotch colloquialism; kind of interesting, might have been good in other circumstances; mostly just hard to read. Sorry, really not my cup of tea: seemed annoyingly facile and trendy and really, when it comes down to it, not very interesting.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Rubin

    "Filth," by Irivine Welsh certainly lived up to its name. Pretty filthy, in several ways the word can be used, from beginning to end. It's told in first person by the main character, Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson of the Leith Police, who's approaching middle age and is one of the detectives competing for the single available promotion to Detective Inspector. He feels he's entitled to it because he gave up a few years of rank by working in Australia when his wife Carole wanted to live near he "Filth," by Irivine Welsh certainly lived up to its name. Pretty filthy, in several ways the word can be used, from beginning to end. It's told in first person by the main character, Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson of the Leith Police, who's approaching middle age and is one of the detectives competing for the single available promotion to Detective Inspector. He feels he's entitled to it because he gave up a few years of rank by working in Australia when his wife Carole wanted to live near her Mum down there. Sometime before the beginning of the story Carole has gone away to spend some time with her Mum, who's back in Scotland, and Bruce is on his own. Unfortunately, he doesn't know how to cook or use the machine to wash clothes and as the story progresses his clothes get filthier and filthier, and with his bachelor lifestyle, that's mud, food, sweat, semen, alcohol and anything else that could possibly spill… Bruce isn't a very nice guy, either. He's mean, vicious, vulgar, racist, sexist, alcoholic, wasted on cocaine and wants that promotion. He's in charge of a racial murder that's taken place does what he can to put his colleagues in situations to keep them from getting their job done. For himself, almost every day he starts work late, goes for long, alcoholic lunch breaks and usually knocks off early so he can go shag some woman or watch some adult videos at home. About the most work he seems to do is filling in his overtime pay forms. At the beginning he's in charge of everything around him, but slowly through the novel everything degenerates. We see, from his eyes, what even he doesn't see himself as he loses control and that his coworkers he considers pathetic are much more on top of things than he is… Welsh is crude, vulgar, sick and very filthy in this book, and spins out a fantastic tale.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kaita

    *Edit* I haven't been able to get this book out of my head, which is something that not a lot of books can claim to do to me, so I'm changing my rating to Five Stars, but keeping the review as is. 4.75 / 5 (if you can finish it) This novel took two attempts to read it and several years, plus the release of the movie, to successfully restart and complete it. Filth was the most roller-coaster-like novel I have ever read. It is written with two perspectives, though Bruce Robertson's is the dominant o *Edit* I haven't been able to get this book out of my head, which is something that not a lot of books can claim to do to me, so I'm changing my rating to Five Stars, but keeping the review as is. 4.75 / 5 (if you can finish it) This novel took two attempts to read it and several years, plus the release of the movie, to successfully restart and complete it. Filth was the most roller-coaster-like novel I have ever read. It is written with two perspectives, though Bruce Robertson's is the dominant one. The best way to describe how this novel is reading it is like getting to know someone. The further you delve into their story, the more you see a person fractured. The more reason you see behind their actions, the better you understand how they think, everything. The only novels I can think of that would be even close to this ball park are The Catcher In The Rye and The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. That is, if you injected a whole new level of crazy and desperation into those stories, and then left the protagonists and their lives to rot for 20-30 years. This book is NOT for everyone, but it's amazing. I can't believe someone could create this and put it together so perfectly. Irvine Welsh outdid himself.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brett Starr

    Wow, the book definitely lives up to it's title "Filth"! Detective Sgt. Bruce Robertson is one despicable bastard! He takes drugs, abuses his police power, is addicted to pornography, takes bribes, masterbates compulsively, is a sex fiend, has a nasty bit of eczema below the belt & has a tapeworm in his gut! D.S. Robertson is a filthy human being, he back stabs his friends & co-workers, tells extremely harmful and deceitful lies to women to sleep with them and he stinks "literally"! Once you get Wow, the book definitely lives up to it's title "Filth"! Detective Sgt. Bruce Robertson is one despicable bastard! He takes drugs, abuses his police power, is addicted to pornography, takes bribes, masterbates compulsively, is a sex fiend, has a nasty bit of eczema below the belt & has a tapeworm in his gut! D.S. Robertson is a filthy human being, he back stabs his friends & co-workers, tells extremely harmful and deceitful lies to women to sleep with them and he stinks "literally"! Once you get used to the Scottish slang used throughout this book, it really takes off. Bruce's misadventures are a laugh and his bad attitude is relentless. The tapeworm in Bruce's gut talks occasionally throughout the book, it may sound odd, but it genius! The tapeworm tells the story of how Bruce grew to be the "Filth" that he is. The book keeps a good pace throughout, but really delivers in the last 3/4 of the story. The ending was perfect, easily one of the finest endings to any story I've read in awhile!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Leo Robertson

    Welsh: farts are stinky tee hee SOMEONE GIVE THAT MAN A CAREER!! For a misogynist you can root for, try The Book of Dave. Self doesn't consider compassion something you can switch on and off when it's convenient to your plot. Point. Also his books have more than one plot point. Welsh: farts are stinky tee hee SOMEONE GIVE THAT MAN A CAREER!! For a misogynist you can root for, try The Book of Dave. Self doesn't consider compassion something you can switch on and off when it's convenient to your plot. Point. Also his books have more than one plot point.

  26. 4 out of 5

    William

    It took me a while and a few conversations with my bestest book buddy Nat K to organize my thoughts, and figure out what to even say in a review of filth. First off, the elephant in the room. Filth is maximally offensive in just about every way possible, and it is not for the faint of heart. It's a great book, but I could see the content being a deal breaker for many people. I honestly believe Welsh wrote the book like this to describe "the cycle of abuse" as vividly as possible. It's not unfair It took me a while and a few conversations with my bestest book buddy Nat K to organize my thoughts, and figure out what to even say in a review of filth. First off, the elephant in the room. Filth is maximally offensive in just about every way possible, and it is not for the faint of heart. It's a great book, but I could see the content being a deal breaker for many people. I honestly believe Welsh wrote the book like this to describe "the cycle of abuse" as vividly as possible. It's not unfair to say the amount and severity of offensive content was overkill, BUT it you have the intestinal fortitude to soldier through to the end, it works, and it's worth it. Ok, enough about the filth in Filth. Aside from the bombastic protagonist, it is actually an excellent crime novel. Full of misdirection, twists, turns, and surprises; if you enjoy the Angels In the Moonlight and The White Trilogy, you will probably enjoy filth. Obviously Filth takes the "bad cop" concept and offensive rhetoric up several notches, but it's a brilliantly written investigation novel. Characters are well written, interesting, and have some significance to the plot. I really had the feeling of being in a police squad room, and the dialog felt organic and exciting. If you can tolerate the filthiness, Filth is one of the most hilarious books I've read. Robbo (or Robbocop as I could not stop calling him) is as disgusting a pig of a protagonist you will probably ever read, but I'll admit I was "laughing out loud" for the entire first half of the book. I spent most of the second half of the book in shock. It takes a brilliant writer to evoke that kind of an emotional response in me, and Welsh is definitely that. I loved this book, and I will read more from Welsh once my nerves settle down. My buddy reader and I were both a little out-of-sorts after finishing, the ending is jaw dropping. I won't recommend this to anyone, especially kids. If you ever see an underage person reading this, take the book away from them, and sent them to bed without their dinner. Read at your own risk. Five filthy stars.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Zaki

    This is certainly not the solid, socially acceptable and morally improving type of story. The main character is filth and makes no attempt to hide it from us. Just as i was disgusted with his behaviour I was intrigued by him and started to really admire his honesty.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Randy

    Those of us that can understand the language and Scottish dialect and actually finished this book know that is is superb. It is dark and not everyone's cup of tea, but I am glad that I read it and it will stay with me. Those of us that can understand the language and Scottish dialect and actually finished this book know that is is superb. It is dark and not everyone's cup of tea, but I am glad that I read it and it will stay with me.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rob Twinem

    If you indulge in Irvine Welsh then expect to be shocked, his writing and his descriptions are at times excruciatingly painful to read. Sergeant Bruce Robertson is a typical Welsh character, he takes what he wants lives life to access and does not care if his actions harm or destroy anyone in the process. He is at heart a narcissist possessing an inflated sense of his own importance involved in numerous female liasions with little or no empathy for others. However underneath this facade is a ver If you indulge in Irvine Welsh then expect to be shocked, his writing and his descriptions are at times excruciatingly painful to read. Sergeant Bruce Robertson is a typical Welsh character, he takes what he wants lives life to access and does not care if his actions harm or destroy anyone in the process. He is at heart a narcissist possessing an inflated sense of his own importance involved in numerous female liasions with little or no empathy for others. However underneath this facade is a very troubled possibly suicidal man, and the author uses a very clever way to disclose this to the reader. Robertson's use of alcohol and recreational drugs, with little or no intake of nutrition, have caused a deterioration in his health and he appears to be harboring an intestinal worm. This parasite becomes the main source of information for the detectives's increasingly bizarre behaviour, a very original and highly entertaining element in a narration not for the faint hearted.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tushar Ameria

    The story follows a corrupt and inherently vice police officer in Scotland. Up for a promotion, he is unwillingly working on a homicide of a black person while living a lonesome life of revelry and debauchery where he slyly sabotages life of his closest friends & colleagues, maintaining a friendly facade, and chronically suffers from hallucinations, depression and anxiety attacks. For someone who has seen Trainspotting (based on Novel by the same author) around 5 times, this book is exactly what The story follows a corrupt and inherently vice police officer in Scotland. Up for a promotion, he is unwillingly working on a homicide of a black person while living a lonesome life of revelry and debauchery where he slyly sabotages life of his closest friends & colleagues, maintaining a friendly facade, and chronically suffers from hallucinations, depression and anxiety attacks. For someone who has seen Trainspotting (based on Novel by the same author) around 5 times, this book is exactly what it is supposed to be. While the main theme of the book is acute depression, anxiety, aggression, hereditary aspects & childhood traumas that cultivate them and how these attributes supplement the effect of all the tragedies that police officers see on a daily basis which severely affects their personal life and coping mechanism, there are also layered commentaries on racism, sexism, homophobia, police brutality and socio-political issues still prevalent in our societies. The pace of the book is appropriate with its drama-thriller genre, inclined more towards the former. In 2013, movie-adaptation of book was released starring James McAvoy.

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