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Skagboys Hardcover – September 17, 2012
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"--Times Literary Supplement"
"The voice of punk, grown up, grown wiser and grown eloquent."
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
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.
Just as with his other books, Welsh writes with phoenetically-accurate dialogue -- it takes some time to get used to it, and I recommend your first read be a good 50 pages to get the flow of the writing in your head. In Skagboys he does something even more remarkable, which is to write his different characters with appropriately different accents, reflecting their origin and place in life. I found I carried their voices around in my head during the days of reading Skagboys.
I have listened to interviews with Welsh and it is clear, as I have often heard said, that he is a genuinely decent and incredibly nice guy. Somehow that makes reading him even more pleasurable, for this reader anyway.
Do yourself a favor, and read this book.
This is a review of the audible version -- Tam Dean Burn was excellent as always - i'd highly suggest trying an audio version of Welsh's work to readers who have difficulty with the printed dialect.
The central story is the decline of Mark Renton, who starts out as a university student with a wonderful girlfriend and a real shot at "getting out" and ends up, well, you know. That theme is compelling, but the book also cycles through vignettes of the other main characters: Sick Boy, Spud, and Begbie, as well as several other peripheral characters. With the exception of Begbie - who is a constant through all three books - they all "fall", but since they don't have as far to fall as Renton, they pretty quickly end up in the state you meet them in Trainspotting. The stories are poignant and well written, but after a while, I did find that they became a bit repetitive, and it became a bit of a slog to get to the end - particularly, as I said, when I knew pretty much what the end was going to be. Personally, I think it would have been more effective if it had been pruned a bit.
Much has been said about the phonetic dialectic writing. I only saw the movie Trainspotting, but if I remember Porno correctly, he only used dialectic writing for some characters (Spud?). In this book, it's most characters. I'm pretty ambivalent about it. I think it adds a bit of flavor, but on the other hand, I would have been happy for him to only use it when someone was talking. Since he used it for everything, I eventually just stopeed noticing.
So definitely well worth reading, but you may find yourself skimming in places.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Loved it better than "Porno", but not as good as "Trainspotting".Published 29 days ago by Amazon Customer
I have to be honest and say that I only finished this book because I was a huge fan of Trainspotting. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Dobers
I read Trainspotting, I knew what to expect with the dialect. I just could not get past the first 50 pages, just not interesting.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Lots of fun to be had here as well as plenty to be offended by and some thought provoking stuff. You need to be an Irvine Welsh fan for this and being from the Edinburgh area helps... Read morePublished 7 months ago by bridget
I haven't been able to get into it because of the way that the writing is done with like a HEAVY Scottish accent. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Phil
Very difficult to read as the bulk of it is written phonetically in a crazed Scottish accent.
The story and characters are fun but the narrative is cumbersome and... Read more
I gave this a 5, but feel it's more a 4.5 really.
What can I say? I really enjoy reading about these misfits. Read more