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Comment: 2012. Hardcover. Fine.
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Skagboys Hardcover – September 17, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Mark Renton Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"One of the most significant writers in Britain. He writes with style, imagination, wit and force."
"--Times Literary Supplement"
" "
"The voice of punk, grown up, grown wiser and grown eloquent."
"--The Times"

About the Author

Irvine Welsh is the author of Trainspotting, Ecstacy, Filth (soon to be a major motion picture), Glue, Porno, and Crime, among other works. Welsh is also producing movies and writing screenplays. A native of Edinburgh, he lives in Chicago and Miami.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition edition (September 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780393088731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393088731
  • ASIN: 0393088731
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #459,278 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the best books this author has written, it is remarkable in scope, humor, depth of character, the ability to emit the most genuinely skin-crawlyingly disturbing scenes, followed by some of the funniest -- and always written with the unflinching respect of truth. I don't understand how he does it, but as busy as I am, I read this 500-plus page book at every possible free moment, sad now that it's over. And don't be put off by it's overly grim cover -- sorry publisher, but it just doesn't fit the book, in my opinion.
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.
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Format: Paperback
I Loved Welsh's work when I was younger, have several UK first editions. Trainspotting was amazing. Welsh excels at creating relationships between "mates" who pick on, tease, and care for each other because "he's a mate and all." I've never really been impressed with his female characters. If you're a Trainspotting fan, you already know that Begbie is a violent psychopath, Sick Boy is selfish, Spud is sweet but not clued-in, and Renton is a bit complicated. Skag Boys doesn't really offer much new material - we already know how Renton felt about his younger brother, that Sick Boy is s smooth-talking ladies' man, etc. I gave the book 3 stars because it was sort of fun to hear the guys rip on each other again, but we know this story.
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Skagboys is a worthy prequel in the 'Trainspotting' trilogy and a five star read. In the novel the exploits of its now famous four characters (Rents, Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie) come of age in the Thatcherite dystopia of early 1980s working class Edinburgh. Welsh's characters face a world of tough choices, unemployment, drugs and generational poverty with a headlong rage that is the authors trademark. The hardback books hefty 548 pages highlights the family friends and developing `love interests' of the principal characters as they move, mate and scheme from the Port of Leith and into the wider world. Skagboys is vintage Welsh, with some of the best characterisation to date of his anti heroes at work rest and play. The novel is at times sad, bad, hilarious and profound with imagery and dialogue that's pure catnip to the converted/perverted Welsh reader.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a must read for Welsh fans. If you read the cover, you know how it starts, and if you read or saw Trainspotting, you know how it ends, so it would be hard to give any spoilers even if I were inclined to.

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.
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