Welsh's signature plotless novel is composed entirely of brief vignettes, only tenuously connected by the common characters, that are sometimes humorous, sometimes hideous, sometimes horrifying, but most often some combination of the three. The protagonists are a circle of lowlifes, petty criminals, drug abusers, and thugs, who survive if they do not thrive in the maze of Leith's slums where even the minister is a time-serving functionary at the crematory. The total effect is that of a three dimensional portrait of life under "the law ay the dragon". And when you're trapped in the dragon's den with no hope of escape, why not get comfortable as the dragon eats you, from the legs up even?
The plotline is less coherent than either the abridged film adaptation or the sequel Porno, both of which I would also recommend, but it's a fascinating read nevertheless. The written accents may be difficult for some readers to follow at first.
I was so sad when I finished this book. But luckily I came late in the game and the pure brilliant Welsh had written a prequel and sequel since it's inception. I was a lucky man and found Skagboys to be even more likable than this one. I have now set out on a totally rewarding journey to read all of Welsh's works. In a lifetime of terrible decisions this has been one of my better moves.
I read this from the Irvine Welsh Omnibus. Welsh's stuff is fun and tricky to read. All of his material is written in a phonetic style. The thick accents are impossible not to "hear" in your head. Every time I read a Welsh book, I think in a sort of Scottish/English accent for weeks after.
Usually when i finish reading a book i have the pleasurable feeling of having completed something and the excited anticipation of starting my next read. Occasionally (very rarely), this glib feeling is replaced by a real sadness. By the realization that you won't get to have any more new time with these characters. That you can re-read the book a hundred times but there will be no more original moments. And I finish the book with the sad realization that I am going to miss these characters, whether I liked them or not.
This is one of those books.
"The sweat wis lashing oafay Sick Boy; he wis trembling."
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