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Glue Paperback – May 17, 2001

3.8 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

With a title like Glue, it would seem reasonable to assume that Irvine Welsh's fifth book is a meditation on the pitfalls of solvent abuse. In fact the word refers to the bonds that unite four boys, all of whom have grown up in "the scheme"--i.e., Edinburgh's slum-clearance flats, whose optimistic construction in the 1970s give way to the poverty, unemployment, and crime of the succeeding decades. It is the pervasive despair of these crumbling projects that defines the lives of the protagonists: budding DJ Carl Ewart, boxer Billy Birrell, work-shy, sex-mad Terry Lawson, and Andrew Galloway, a drug addict who has tested HIV-positive.

Recounted in the author's inimitable style, Glue is a grungy, Scots-accented bildungsroman. The novel follows the boys through their early forays into sex, drink, drugs, and football violence. Contemplating his erotic initiation, Carl Ewart poses such crucial questions as "How dae ah chat up a bird?" and "Do I wear a rubber johnny?" Here and there Welsh injects political commentary into the mix: Billy Birrell, for example, reflects that "having money is the only way to get respect. Desperate, but that's the world we live in now." For the most part, though, the author sticks to sex and violence and his famously offhand one-liners: "Guilt and shaggin, they go the gither like fish n chips." Fans of Trainspotting will love the book, even down to the brief appearance of Begbie and Renton. Others may feel that Glue is more of the same, and that, despite its graphic charms, the book finds Welsh stuck in a rut. --Jerry Brotton

From Publishers Weekly

Spanning four decades, Welsh's first full-length novel since 1998's Filth chronicles the friendship of four boys from the Edinburgh projects who cling together through football brawls, "shagging" ordeals, encounters with the law, drug experimentation and loss. The POV of this brutally dark tale shifts smoothly among the friends, showcasing Welsh's finely tuned ear for dialect as well as his ability to craft rich, memorable characters. Although the lads differ in many ways Juice Terry Lawson is a bawdy ladies' man with an eye for resalable goods; Billy "Business" Birrell is a rational-minded, all-around athlete with an iron fist; NSIGN Carl Ewart is a philosopher king and a talented disc jockey; "wee" Andrew Galloway (aka Gally) is a warmhearted but luckless drug addict they are bound by the same set of principles: never hit a woman, always back up your mates and never snitch on anyone. Welsh's prose is sometimes coarse and sometimes surprisingly introspective as he describes the introduction of new technologies into factories and contemplates changing mores in Scotland. These general observations give depth to the foreground adventures of Terry, Billy, Carl and Gally, who, despite changing circumstances, strive to stay mates as they approach middle age and the new millennium. A character from Trainspotting makes a cameo appearance during a bungled heist, and readers will note other correspondences with Welsh's cult classic. Stocked with his usual quirky, sympathetic characters, this rollicking new tale sparkles with the writer's trademark satiric wit. Its heft and narrative breadth should convince any remaining skeptics that Welsh now effectively the grand old man of in-your-face Scottish fiction is a writer to be taken seriously. (May)Forecast: Considerably longer than any of Welsh's previous efforts, this brick of a book will sit well on display tables. Loyal readers will likely pack readings on a nine-city author tour; if critics pay homage, too, this could be Welsh's biggest seller since Trainspotting.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st American ed edition (May 17, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393322157
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393322156
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"Glue" is Welsh's best since "Trainspotting." I have loved all of his books (even if "Filth" was a Scottish version of "The Bad Lieutenant"). This time, there's no wacky parasite running down the middle of a page declaring its hunger, no wacky type face or font putting you in the frame of mind of the user. "Glue" is the straightforward tale of four boys growing up in the schemes (projects) of Edinburgh. Their friendship tries to survive the test of time as their lives take different paths. There's Juice-Terry, the womanizer of the group; Carl Ewart, record collector who becomes a world class DJ: Billy Birrell, the boxer; and Andrew Galloway, whose life takes many tragic turns. Welsh once again displays his gift with language. A lot of readers complain about his use of Scottish dialect, but after you've read his other books it becomes quite easy to read. This book features his most sympathetic characters to date; in fact I found myself getting teary-eyed in many scenes because I did not want bad things to happen to them. But of course this is Irvine Welsh's world, so bad things happen to them all. There are great set pieces (such as the entire Oktoberfest in which they befriend German ravers), plenty of drugs, and plenty of shagging. God, I did not want this book to end. There are even cameos from the lads of "Trainspotting" which take place before and after that landmark work. If you are a Welsh fan, you will love this...
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Format: Paperback
(I originally wrote this review for my daughter who is a big Irvine Welsh fan)

Ay wisnae goan te tell ye, ma wee lassie, boot that

Irvine Welsh fellay's new book "Glue", 'cause ay knows

ye to be a big fan of 'im n aw, ya ken? Ah mean eh's

the author of "Trainspotting", n prackly a nashnul

treasure in Scotland, nae one can deny, right?

Bit seein' as ays yir dear oold faither, ah didnae

think ye'd feel it oot of order for ays to share me

thoughts boot the subject with ye, me bein' a capital

gadge n aw.

Jes a wee warnin' fore ah git started with me

review--fir sum strange reason, eh put nae one, bit

two! shocking scenes of dug croolty early inna book.

Now ye know ays well enaw te know that ah'm nae

easily shocked, bit when ay read what eh wrote 'boot

the dugs...ah sicked all oer the front of me t-shirt,

messy like!

Okey, now for te story n aw. Ah'm sure for a certain,

that ye wondered how twas that the wide radges in

"Trainspotting", "The Acid House", 'n "Filth" got to

be the way they wir, worthless radges and crim-oes,

right? Whut wazzit boot grawn up in Edinburgh 'n

Gleskay innem council flats, thet made 'em jes hang

out in pub, drunk on bevvy 'n eckies 'n jellies 'n

smack, 'n sichlike? Ah know ah did, for a fact!

"Glue" splains it, er at least tries te. T'is the

story 'o four wee bairnes, all of 'em bairn boot the

same time in the '60s. Thaes Juice Terry, Gally,

Billy, 'n Carl the Milky Bar Kid.
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Format: Paperback
GLUE is a hard-hitting, frank, and often violent recount of the friendship between four boys growing up in Edinburgh's economically depressed scheme. The reader is taken on a wild ride as Juice Terry Lawson, Carl Ewart, Billy Birrell, and Andrew Galloway engage in such youthful acts as football hooliganism, street fighting, excessive drinking and drugging, shagging (getting your hole), and incessant encounters with the police. Meanwhile, their life at home is often less than satisfactory as they have to deal with divorce, joblessness, and emotional neglect. Relations between the four friends transform as decades pass and circumstances change, but they are never able to let go of the past. Each character must confront their past if their friendship is to survive into the new millennium.
Irvine Welsh performs an admirable task of developing characters that are both believable and three-dimensional. Each character comes alive on the page. Additionally, the bonds of friendship between the four characters are not portrayed in a simplistic feel-good manner. Although they might have been friends since childhood, they do have their grievances and anger with each other. Relations aren't always perfect between them resulting in this novel's greatest strength.
GLUE is written in Welsh's signature style of working-class Scottish dialogue, which makes the experience of reading this novel very rich and animated. If you are familiar with TRAINSPOTTING than GLUE will be familiar in its form and context. There are even cameo references to the characters and plot of TRAINSPOTTING in this book. My only complaint with GLUE refers to the torture killing of the guard dogs occurring in the first part of this book.
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Format: Paperback
Although "Glue" contains lots of the sex, drugs, and violence that can be found in other Irvine Welsh books like "Filth" and "Trainspotting," it also finds Welsh seemingly trying to inject some more meaning into his writing. And for the most part, it's successful. The book follows four friends, Billy, Gally, Terry, and Carl, at ten-year intervals from their childhoods in the Edinburgh projects to their mid-thirties. With all four men getting a turn to narrate and some third-person narration as well, Welsh gives us a look inside the heads of each one, and we get to see how they're shaped by their working-class urban background. Welsh has a knack for crafting believable characters who are flawed but sympathetic, and "Glue" is no exception.
As "Glue" wears on and Billy, Gally, Terry, and Carl get older, their lives become more difficult and complicated. As teenagers, they're preoccupied with little more than getting girls into bed and taking part in soccer riots. By the book's conclusion, they've had to confront the realities of adulthood: changing social mores, marriage, kids, jobs, drugs, crime, street morality, death, and more. And although the four men are joined by the bonds of friendship, Welsh also gives the reader an idea of the often complex and self-serving nature of these relationships. I think what Welsh was essentially going for was an examination of how life's complexity and ambiguity only grows as people get older, and he nails it.
Of course, it wouldn't be an Irvine Welsh novel without loads of profanity and graphic prose, and there's enough of that here to keep just about anyone entertained.
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