- Paperback: 348 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st American ed edition (June 17, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393314804
- ISBN-13: 978-0393314809
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 208 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Trainspotting Paperback – June 17, 1996
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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.
“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
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Well, so the story itself is a maze of episodes taken from the lives of junkie mates and their friends, narrated primarily by Rents, or Mark Renton. We jump back and forth between scenes of scoring drugs, injecting drugs, withdrawing from drugs, getting on drugs again, all the while revolving around everything that goes with it, HIV infections, sex, violence, death, neglect, you name it, everything under the sun is here, and more, the constant background of moral choice against pure survival. Which outweighs which? We get to see several different perspectives of different characters, most of them colorfully doused with all kinds of human liquid, like puddles of urine, vomit, feces, blood, and everything in between, with rare glimpses of love here and there and this strange soberness that causes them to look up and realize what hole they've sunk into, but only for a moment, before returning back to the needle. The power of language is such that when you raise your head to catch a breath from reading, you're disoriented for a while, not sure where you are and how you got there. The only wish I had was to get back into the book, annoying those around me, perhaps because the topic rung true to me. I've never been on drugs, but I've been suicidal, and maybe that's why I cried. I felt this desire to destroy yourself behind the rage, the anger, the need to escape it all, for not being accepted, for being lonely, for being so numb that the only way to feel something was to get high. You know it's an illusion, but you don't care. Anything goes. it hit me in the gut, this book, and it will hit me again and again, as I plan to reread it. Now I'm off, watching the movie, and I hope you're off to read this book, because you bloody have to.