January 19, 1996 at 05:00 AM EST

Marabou Stork Nightmares

Current Status
In Season
Irvine Welsh
We gave it an A

MARABOU STORK NIGHTMARES Irvine Welsh (Norton, $21) As Scottish soccer hooligan Roy Strang lies comatose in a hospital, his hallucinations of swashbuckling, Technicolor African safaris (in pursuit of the sadistic marabou stork) merge with memories of his depraved childhood in Edinburgh’s slums and among Johannesburg’s white supremacists. But what was his recent, barbaric crime that keeps welling up, in obscene flashes, from his unconscious? TV repairman-turned-novelist Welsh eschews the seedy rave culture of his previous books (The Acid House, Trainspotting, the latter to be released as a movie by Miramax later this year) for a fiercely modulated meditation on how one man’s life seesawed between the taking and the giving of abuse. Since the narrative is in Roy’s mind, Welsh uses a tapestry of typefaces to signal the frequencies of Roy’s consciousness. Not only does this structure work brilliantly, it allows for a finale that brings Roy’s memories, hallucinations, and nightmares to an explosive awakening. A

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