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The Cutting Room by Louise Welsh
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The Cutting Room (original 2002; edition 2003)

by Louise Welsh

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657None14,694 (3.47)42
Member:JohnnyOstentatious
Title:The Cutting Room
Authors:Louise Welsh
Info:Canongate U.S. (2003), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
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The Cutting Room by Louise Welsh (2002)

(4) 2003 (4) 21st century (6) antiques (5) Auctioneers (5) British (9) contemporary fiction (4) crime (49) crime fiction (18) dark (4) fiction (98) gay (15) Glasgow (27) homosexuality (4) murder (6) mystery (44) noir (4) novel (18) photography (4) pornography (10) queer (4) read (7) Scotland (36) Scottish (24) Snuff (3) thriller (20) to-read (15) UK (7) unread (9) wishlist (3)
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  1. 00
    Garnethill by Denise Mina (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: A no-holds-barred noir from another Scottish author.
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» See also 42 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Do Scottish people really call things "wee" so often? ( )
  thatotter | Feb 6, 2014 |
Debut literary mystery in the key of noir set in Glasgow. I seem to be in Scotland a lot lately.
The book is original, in characters and prose. The prose is a distinctive and effortless (my apologies to Ms. Welsh) blend of spare and pithy; elegaic; disturbing and graphic; and darkly humorous, all from the fictive mind of its narrator, who embodies the abovementioned descriptives. Rilke is a fortysomething auctioneer occupying the murky social space between respectable and seedy, purposely it seems. "I handed her my card and let her look me up and down. I could almost hear her assessment: hair bad, tie, shirt, suit good, cowboy boots bad. Well, she had a point, but they were genuine snakeskin." He is resigned to living in this grey area, periodically spiking this bleakness with forays into drug use and anonymous gay sex, and his quotidian life is fueled by cigarettes and booze. He's a bit of an antihero. No angel, Rilke lets you know that he can be dangerous if challenged, and that although he allows his curiosity and libido to lead him down dark paths where the rules of engagement may be unknown, he can take care of himself.
Interestingly enough, it is Rilke's sense of morality, of decency, that won't let him abandon the investigation into the story behind a decades-old photo of snuff pornography--is it real or is it fake? Is there an unknown victim of a murderer who'd now be dead?--but his basic shadiness prevents him from turning the photos in to a friendly police detective.
Welsh does that trick I like so well, of revealing her characters bit by bit, and in this case, by the end, they're still largely in shadow. We're left with the question of why Rilke and his closest friends are the way they are. There's a touch of gothic in this book, and the ending caught me by surprise.
Not recommended for those who might be squeamish about the graphic description of the intersection between sex and violence, or about sexual encounters between men. If that's not you, and you like moral ambiguity, noir and good prose, this is for you. ( )
2 vote citygirl | Dec 29, 2010 |
I picked up this book in a charity shop and decided to buy it based on the many awards it has won and the fact it was 50p! Personally I think I am pretty broad minded but I found myself raising my eyebrows on a few occasions while reading The Cutting Room.

I expected a gritty Glaswegian thriller type mystery but got a bit more. Yes, in the main it is a mystery set in Glasgow but this book also has a much darker erotic side with some graphic passages describing 'snuff' photos, pornography and homosexual encounters. The authors intention is clearly to shock the reader and display her originality in character creation but I felt that some of the description passages went a bit far. (referring to the 2 pages of gay and lesbian condemnation found by Rilke).
I dont have a huge amount of experience of tartan noir - just Stuart McBride - but as a mystery novel I found the book entertaining and intriguing. The story loses itself a bit in the middle and there are some additional characters which dont add much but its a good read. Overall I am glad I read it, but not sure I would rush to read anything else by the same author. ( )
  Esiotrot | Apr 5, 2010 |
I was fed up with my life. Fed up of working and never having anything. Tired of searching my pockets for the price of my next pint. I'd sat next to Death that afternoon. Why not take the risk? The only people who might get hurt were us, and weren't we used to that? I wanted something good for a change. And if the money was going begging, well, why shouldn't we have it? From what Anderson had said, it was dirty money anyway, ill-gotten gains that could do us some good. I should have known better. Dirty money contaminates. It never goes begging and there's always someone else who can be hurt.

The Cutting Room is a dark, sharp-edged story, following Rilke, the cadaverous 43 year old gay employee of a failing auction house whose behavior defines risky. He is called to evaluate the contents of a house, a house whose contents are richer than the auction house has ever seen. He is given the job on the condition that the auction be completed in a week's time and that he clear out the contents of an attic office personally. In the attic he finds a collection of first edition erotic books and, in a cardboard box, a handful of pictures taken in Paris in the 1950s, two of which seem to show the murder of a young woman. Rilke sets out to discover what happened and in the process discovers more sleaze and criminal behavior than he had ever expected.

The Cutting Room is noir fiction at its finest. The characters are beautifully drawn, complex and interesting. The pace of the novel is fast, with a well thought out plot. I enjoyed every moment of this book, although I am relieved not to have met any of its shady characters in real life.

I was too old to call it love at first sight, but I had all the symptoms. People have died for love, they have lied and cheated and parted from those who loved them in turn. Love has slammed doors on fortunes, made bad men from heroes and heroes from libertines. Love has corrupted, cured, depraved and perverted. It is the remedy, the melody, the poison and the pain. The appetite, the antidote, the fever and the flavour. Love Kills. Love Cures. Love is a bloody menace. Oh, but it's fun while it lasts. The world faltered on its axis, then resumed its customary gyration, a place of improved possibilities. ( )
1 vote RidgewayGirl | Feb 12, 2010 |
A convincing realisation of modern day Glasgow using the mystery/thriller story as a peg on which to hang the characters and description of the city. The sadistic sexual references made me uneasy, but are not dwelt upon too much (it is graphic) and are necessary to the portrayal of the characters and their relationships. ( )
  CarltonC | Nov 10, 2009 |
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Erwarte nie etwas.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 184195280X, Paperback)

The Cutting Room heralds the arrival of an outstanding, contemporary Glasgow novel. Its charismatic protagonist, Rilke, is eccentric, witty and frequently outrageous. An auctioneer by profession, he is an acknowledged expert in antiques but also considers himself something of an expert in many other fields. When Rilke comes upon a hidden collection of disturbing erotic photographs, he feels compelled to unearth more about the deceased owner who coveted them. What follows is a compulsive journey of discovery, decadence and deviousness, steered in part by Rilke's gay promiscuity and inquisitive nature. Louise Welsh's writing is stylish and captivating; she combines aspects of a detective story with shades of the gothic in a colourful Glasgow ranging from the genteel suburbs to a transvestite club, an auction house to the bookies and pubs to porn shops. The result is a page-turning and deliciously original debut.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:48 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Rilke, an auctioneer, comes upon a hidden collection of violent erotic photographs. He feels compelled to unearth more about the deceased owner who coveted them. What follows is a journey of discovery, decadence and deviousness, steered in part by Rilke's gay promiscuity and inquisitive nature.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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