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A Fitting Start to the Trainspotting Trilogy,
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This review is from: Skagboys (Mark Renton Series) (Kindle Edition)
As a long time Welsh fan, I suppose I could be considered a little biased - but really, in all honesty, this is one of the cult Scottish author's finest efforts to date.
Skagboys revisits the sunny port of Leith and adjoining Edinburgh, and the eclectic cast of characters that made up Welsh's debut effort - the drugged-out classic Trainspotting. All your skeevy old pals are here... ever-acerbic Mark Renton, sweet natured Spud, scheming Sickboy and, naturally, the delightfully psychotic pugilist, Begbie. Only this time, we meet Leith's finest schemies in their early twenties - just as they're developing that nasty little heroin habit which was the focal point of Trainspotting.
So yes, it's a prequel to Trainspotting, featuring characters that should be familiar to fans of the earlier book or its cinematic adaptation. But, as always, Welsh is not afraid to delve a little deeper. While on the surface a simple story of a hopeless descent into addiction, the novel also chronicles the sad devolution of the working class in dystopian mid-eighties Scotland.
It's quite interesting, but also quite depressing, to bear witness to the slow ravaging of blue collar Scottish society, whose denizens turn to drugs and violence to numb the economic and social hardships incurred by the rise of Maggie's Farm. The novel also deals with the rampant incursion of AIDS into Edinburgh - once Europe's AIDS capital - which spreads all too rapidly through shared needle use and illicit sex.
If you're a fan of Trainspotting, or it's excellent sequel Porno (which revisits our anti-heroes in their mid thirties) then I simply can't recommend this read enough. In the off chance you've read some of Welsh's other works, and haven't got around to Trainspotting, then I'd advise you to start here. Be warned, though - as with all the author's works, this is definitely NOT for the faint of heart.
Vintage Welsh. It's a good thing.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 18, 2012 6:13:00 AM PDT
I haven't read any of Irvine Welsh yet, though I was/am a big fan of the movie adaptations (don't remember much of the stories, though). Would you recommend reading this trilogy in the "correct" order, i.e. Skagboys, Trainspotting, Porno?
In reply to an earlier post on May 19, 2012 5:26:13 PM PDT
It's definitely not necessary, though I suppose I would recommend it. Trainspotting is more a collection of loosely linked short stories, whereas Porno and Skagboys are a little less episodic in nature... if that gives you some idea of where to start. Trainspotting is probably the shortest of the three, also, and actually quite different to the film... a lot more raw, to be honest. But Skagboys does provide an excellent introduction to these characters.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 19, 2012 11:11:31 AM PDT
Ed Morgan says:
Good to hear this might be the right book to enter the series through. I appreciate your contextualizing review, tones. Thanks.
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