Irvine Welsh

UD Profile

Crime, Claustrophobia and the Everglades

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Trainspotting writer Irvine Welsh is best known for his drug-and-dialect-soaked novels depicting punks, corrupt cops and porn stars. (In other words, your life.) His latest novel, Crime, is set in Miami and centers on a detective recovering from a mental breakdown who stumbles onto a pedophile ring. The Edinburgh native and part-time Miami resident, who reads from his book tonight at Books & Books, sat down with UD.

UD: With Crime, you seem to have captured the seedy, unsavory side of the city.
IW: For such a bright place Miami is kind of noir-ish and dark. There's a frontier mentality here. You get a lot of people who just end up here. There isn't an established civic pride here, not like what you have in New York or Boston.

UD: Do you fall into that category?
IW: Well yeah, I'm a rootless bum, I'm a bit of a wanderer myself.

UD: Is there anything in the book you've taken from your personal experience here?
IW: The one place I mention quite lovingly is that great bar on 14th Street on the beach, Mac's Club Deuce. It's just a beautiful bar. You feel like you're on the set of Key Largo, it's got that old speakeasy feel to it. It's the only one in Miami of its kind.

UD: Do you spend a lot of time there?
IW: I like to go there around six o'clock. You see people come in after work, you meet the real South Beach locals as opposed to the tourists. Later on you get the usual party crowd. It just absorbs different sorts of clientele. It's a bar with a lot of character, and because of that you get a lot of characters who go there.

UD: What kind of characters do you run into?
IW: I met this guy, a chess player, and he's got claustrophobia and he couldn't live indoors. So he sold his house in Boston—I think he was a professor—and moved down here so he could live on the street.

UD: You met him at Club Deuce?
IW: I met him on the street. He was sleeping in the alley, and I went down and had a chat with him. Asked him if he wanted to have a beer.

UD: Did he?
IW: No. He doesn't drink, so it kind of shamed me a bit.

UD: Do you ever get out of the city?
IW: If I'm feeling adventurous I go out to the Everglades and have a look at some swampy chums. Course, there's always the chance you're tripping over bodies of drug dealers that have been chewed up by alligators. But that's part of the attraction; it's one of the last great wildernesses of America.

UD: Who do you usually party with? 
IW: Usually I'm with exiles, or people passing through. The first time I came here was for Winter Music Conference with a posse from Britain. If I'm with my pal John Hood, I could end up anywhere. We might end up at some nightclub over in downtown Miami.

UD: What would be on your agenda for a date in Miami?
IW: I don't drive so I'd stick to South Beach. I'd probably start off in one of the tacky tourist bars on Ocean Drive where they have the cheap cocktails and everyone going crazy and the bumping beats. Then go for a nice meal somewhere like Table 8 and afterwards maybe a drink at one of the boutique hotels. If it was a Buster Keaton intellectual girl I'd take her to the Miami Beach Cinematheque on Espanola Way for an arthouse film.

UD: Do you often run into Buster Keaton-type women in South Beach?
IW: Well yes, that's really the problem. I like women with brains and looks.

UD: Well, what do you think of the women of Miami?
IW: I'm very positive about women everywhere.

Vitals

Irvine Welsh
265 Aragon Ave
(between Salzedo and Ponce de Leon)
Coral Gables
Coral Gables, FL 33134
305-442-4408

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