Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh (1993)
“Society invents a spurious convoluted logic tae absorb and change people whae’s behaviour is outside its mainstream. Suppose that ah ken aw the pros and cons, know that ah’m gaunnae huv a short life, am ah sound mind, ectetera, ectetera, but still want tae use smack? They won’t let ye dae it. They won’t let ye dae it, because it’s seen as a sign ay thir ain failure. The fact that ye jist simply choose tae reject whut they huv tae offer. Choose us. Choose life. Choose mortgage payments; choose washing machines; choose cars; choose sitting oan a couch watching mind-numbing and spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fuckin junk food intae yir mooth. Choose rotting away, pishing and shiteing yersel in a home, a total fuckin embarrassment tae the selfish, fucked-up brats ye’ve produced. Choose life. Well, ah choose no tae choose life. If the cunts cannae handle that, it’s thair fuckin problem. As Harry Launder sais, ah jist intend tae keep right on to the end of the road…”
Mark (Rentboy, Renton), Simon (Sick Boy), Daniel (Spud and Francis (Franco, Begbie) are mates in Edinburgh, Scotland. The book follows them and others through using drugs, withdrawals, getting clean, scheming, partying and the deaths of their mates.
Having attempted to read Glue before, I wasn’t really looking forward to Trainspotting. And the sole reason is the Scottish accent 90% of the book is written in. It was a struggle at first, I had to read aloud to myself (and then laughing because I really sounded ridiculous) the first couple of pages, but then I got used to it. But still it was not an easy book to read. The other reason for this is that the chapters are not really related to each other so it always took a while to figure out who the narrator was and how much time had lapsed since the last chapter.
It’s not a pleasant read, although the situations the boys find themselves in at times can be hilarious. The scenes dealing with piss and shit had me almost gagging, while the violent scenes made me pull a shocked grimace. But still I can’t call this book more than okay. Maybe it’s because it had too many narrators with too many nicknames and I was in a more or less confused state while reading. Or maybe it was simply the language which ruined it for me.
It was made into a film in 1996, and although I remember the film as funnier and easier to follow, I’m not sure if I want to see it again because of that too disturbing toilet scene. The book is also followed by Porno and then Skagboys, which was just released. But those are not on my list of books to read.