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Trainspottingby Irvine Welsh
Synopses & Reviews
In the past decade writers such as A. L. Kennedy, Iain Banks, Alan Warner, Michel Faber, and Ian Rankin have made Scotland one of the most talked about literary communities in the world. No writer, though, has been more central to this "Scottish literary renaissance" than Irvine Welsh, whose books have not only sold millions of copies worldwide, but have more closely associated Welsh with his native country than any other Scots writer. In fact, it's impossible to ignore Welsh's nationality. This becomes clear in the very first sentence of his spectacularly successful first novel, Trainspotting: "The sweat wis lashing oafay Sick Boy; he wis trembling." Welsh's characters speak the thick working class dialect of Edinburgh, which takes a bit of getting used to. But once the reader has the hang of Welsh's language, it becomes apparent that he is a writer of extraordinary talents. His dialogue is as witty and driving as Elmore Leonard's and as a linguistic innovator he rivals Anthony Burgess. But Trainspotting is much more than literary pyrotechnics. This story of a group of working-class junkies in Edinburgh — Rents, Sick Boy, Mother Superior, Swanney, Spuds, and Begbie — is violent, rude, sexually explicit, and very, very black. But it is also a novel with genuine heart. And this, of course, is the key to its phenomenal popularity. Trainspotting is both a spirited, raunchy tour of Edinburgh's drug culture and a serious work of art that exposes the vulnerabilities and longings that unite all human beings. Farley, Powells.com
Trainspotting is the hilarious, appalling, riveting, bestselling, and altogether masterful first novel that launched the spectacular career of Irvine Welsh. It is an authentic, unrelenting, and strangely exhilarating group portrait of blasted lives in Edinburgh as unforgettable a clutch of junkies, rude boys, and nutters as readers will ever encounter.
"Welsh writes with a wit that's calculatedly outrageous, and his main character, Mark Renton, can be winningly sarcastic, especially when he's in need of a fix; but this does not make the book an advertisement for drugs....To say that Trainspotting glorifies heroin is like saying that the Inferno glorifies hell....The careful manipulation of perspective is what makes Welsh's writing more than just a catalog of dead baby humor and drug lore. Through his use of vernacular and shifting voices, he stays close enough to his characters to get into their heads, but far enough away to show their self-delusion....The language in Trainspotting is alienating at first, exhilarating once you get the hang of it, and finally poetic in its complications. One of the most complicated things about the book is that it isn't written in one voice but in many. Each character has his own syntax, vocabulary and rhythm....This isn't just dictation on Welsh's part; it's literary in the best sense, using language at every level to tell a story." Jane Mendelsohn, The New Republic
"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." Mark Jolly, The New York Times Book Review
"Irvine Welsh is the real thing a marvelous mixture of nihilism and heartbreak, pinpoint realism (especially in dialect and tone), and an archetypal universality." David Foster Wallace, author of Infinite Jest
"The best book ever written by man or woman...deserves to sell more copies than the Bible." Rebel, Inc.
Trainspotting is the novel that first launched Irvine Welsh's spectacular career—an authentic, unrelenting, and strangely exhilarating episodic group portrait of blasted lives.
It accomplished for its own time and place what Hubert Selby, Jr.'s Last Exit to Brooklyn did for his. Rents, Sick Boy, Mother Superior, Swanney, Spuds, and Seeker are as unforgettable a clutch of junkies, rude boys, and psychos as readers will ever encounter. Trainspotting was made into the 1996 cult film starring Ewan MacGregor and directed by Danny Boyle (Shallow Grave).
About the Author
IRVINE WELSH lives in Edinburgh and in London on no fixed schedule. He has had a variety of occupations too numerous and too tedious to recount. Trainspotting was his first novel; he has also published a collection of short stories and a novella entitled The Acid House; the novels Marabou Stork Nightmares, Filth, and Glue; and another collection entitled Ecstasy.
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