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Trainspotting Hardcover – October 1, 2002

239 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Mark Renton Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

Irvine Welsh's controversial first novel, set on the heroin-addicted fringe of working-class youth in Edinburgh, is yet another exploration of the dark side of Scottishness. The main character, Mark Renton, is at the center of a clique of nihilistic slacker junkies with no hopes and no possibilities, and only "mind-numbing and spirit-crushing" alternatives in the straight world they despise. This particular slice of humanity has nothing left but the blackest of humor and a sharpness of wit. American readers can use the glossary in the back to translate the slang and dialect--essential, since the dialogue makes the book. This is a bleak vision sung as musical comedy. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


“The language in Trainspotting is... exhilarating once you get the hang of it, and finally poetic in its complications.... Literary in the best sense, using language at every level to tell a story.” (Jane Mendelsohn - New Republic)

“Blisteringly funny.... Don't abandon everything for the movie. It's worth making the effort with Trainspotting ?not merely because relatively few writers have rummaged through this particular enclave of British youth culture, but because even fewer have dug there so deeply.” (New York Times Book Review)

“It is funny, unflinchingly abrasive, authentic, and inventive, unerringly on—and off—the pulse. It is a true cult, the kind of novel you press on perfect strangers. It validates a world fiction hasn't recognized before.” (Times Out)

“Irvine Welsh writes with skill, wit, and compassion that amounts to genius. He is the best thing that has happened to British writing in decades.” (Nick Hornby - Sunday Times)

“Irvine Welsh may become one of the most significant writers in Britain. He writes with style, imagination, wit, and force, and in a voice which those alienated by much current fiction clearly want to hear.” (Times Literary Supplement)

“Irvine Welsh is the real thing—a marvelous admixture of nihilism and heartbreak, pinpoint realism (especially in dialect and tone) and almost archetypal universality.” (David Foster Wallace) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 340 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition edition (October 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393057240
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393057249
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (239 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #205,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Irvine Welsh is the author of Trainspotting, Ecstasy, Glue, Porno, Filth, Marabou Stork Nightmares, The Acid House, If You Liked School, You'll Love Work, The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs and Reheated Cabbage. He divides his time between Florida, Ireland, and Scotland.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Johnny Sideburns on November 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Finally. I no longer have to worry about buying a new paperback copy of this book every three months or so; this has always been a book that I've frequently enjoyed going back to multiple times after finishing...and now we've finally got a version that is built to last.
Most likely you've already seen the movie before deciding whether or not to read the book. Be forewarned, however; John Hodge's screenplay is a masterful job of bringing continuity to a series of stories that are in fact only loosely related. The book "Trainspotting" is comprised of a series of short stories previously published independently in various periodicals over a stretch of time...the stories deal with the same core of characters, but that is really all that ties them together. You will probably find that Danny Boyle's job of directing the "Trainspotting" movie looks even more impressive after reading even a quarter of the book.
The book does focus on a set of wrong-side-of-the-track friends involved with drugs, alcohol, petty crime, and anything else they can find to take their minds off their completely unfulfilling lives. An added challenge (and a fair extent of the book's charm) is that the book's dialogue and first-person narrative are written in the author's native Edinburgh dialect, making the book perhaps more accessible to Robert Burns scholars than the average non-Scots English speaker. However, there is a glossary in the back of the book that is rather helpful...and my personal recommendation is to read the book out loud whenever possible (I don't know why, but whenever I did this, the written words made more sense when heard as an audible accent).
If you liked the movie at all, the book is for you.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
I'd seen the movie, but didn't know if I could bring myself to read the book. I had heard that it was even more graphic than the film, and was unsure of my capabilities to understand the Edinburgh dialect that Welsh had written the book in. However, after a visit to Glasgow, Scotland, I was reintroduced to the novel. I nearly bought it while I was there, but realized that it would not have the glossary that the American edition has. Upon my return, I immediately bought it, and finished it within days. The book is about a group of characters who are all somehow touched by the heroin culture of Edinburgh. Many are users, some are just friends of users. All the characters in the book are somehow linked together. They each tell at least one story through their own eyes. The reader is taken through a journey, shown the ins and outs of these people's addiction, attempts to kick the addiction, and their ultimate failures, either through death, or just through keeping on in their drug use. The characters are vivid and their situations are made quite real for the reader. By the end of the novel I was quite used to the Scottish dialect, and I was rather attached to the characters. I did not want the story to end. Though it is graphic at times, and the dialect is a challenge at the start, I definitely urge everyone to read this harshly entertaining and highly engrossing novel.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
You've seen the movie, now read the book (or vice versa). Despite the phantasmagorical nature the film adopts at times, the book is even more whacked out--in a good way-- not to mention rougher in many senses. Although it flows chronologically, the novel is plotless, skipping from vignette to vignette, told by a wide range of people. The main characters from the movie are the main characters in the book, but there are a number of stories narrated by more minor characters as well. This makes the whole thing more impressionistic and loose, and of course, allows space for many more entertaining stories. There are a few scenes that get really nasty, such as a scene where Renton has sex with his just-dead brother's pregnant wife in a bathroom after the funeral. The guys are also a fair bit older than the movie makes them out to be, Begbie is a good deal nastier, etc... It's actually rather amazing they found a movie in all the stories in the book. In any event, don't be intimidated by the dialect and slang, it's great fun once you get into it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 3, 1997
Format: Paperback
Welsh's use of dialect and the first person seem to immerse the reader at once into a strange and lurid new world, but his weaknesses as a writer are apparent if one looks for them. They are most prominent when he tries, and fails, to keep up the inertia in the third person, or even when he drops the slang (as in the tiresome "Bad Blood.") A closer examination of Trainspotting reveals just how much Welsh relies on the gimmick of dialect to keep the reader interested: "translate" a few sentences into plain english, and see how uninspired the prose is. Phonetic mispellings does not a masterpiece make; if Welsh's story was truly as universal as people say it is, it wouldn't need them.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Colleen on May 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is, quite simply, the most brilliant book I've ever read. Here's why.
1. The Randomness. There is no plot. This is a book about real people, and real people have no plot in their lives. Especially not these people. And by switching POV, you get to see everything. The movie attempts this with Begbie's throwing-the-glass sequence, but it does no justice.
2. The Phonetic Spelling. Granted, this book is hard to read, incomparably. But this facet holds up the entire book. You can't get to know a person until you know how they talk - more than that, how they SPEAK each and every word. Also - the slang! You will talk better than any cat you ken, likesay?
3. The Personality. You really get to know at least 4 or 5 people in this book, and you like them. Renton the most, then probably Sick Boy, then Begs, then Spud, and the rest of the motley crew. The constantly-switching narrative never says upfront who's speaking, so you learn to identify the gang by speech tags - Hombre for Begbie, Catboy for Spud, the man Sean Connery in general for Sick Boy, and . . . well, let's just say that by the end of the book I could TELL when it was Rents talking. I knew his voice.
4. The Cult Nature. It's everywhere...underground. Lots of online fan bases. It's fun.
5. The Subculture. Face it, how many of us have shot up heroin in a moldy flat in the slums of Edinburgh? With a really intense accent? This book painstakingly shows you a whole new world, literally. And you come out knowing a lot more about drugs.
6. The Message. Trainspotting is a multiple choice question. Here's what happens if you do, here's what happens if you don't. The only judgements in the book come from the characters themselves.
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