1. Anarchist_Apple84
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    Anarchist_Apple84 Senior Member

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    Any Irvine Welsh fans?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Anarchist_Apple84, Jan 17, 2012.

    Like many people the first time I even heard of this author was through watching Trainspotting. It then became the first book I read by him, and I really wish it wasn't.

    Trainspotting isn't for everyone. It takes a while to get your head arround the Scottish colloquial dialect he is writing in, it's incredibly crude, condones some highly immoral behaviour, excessive drug use and violence - but damn is it an amazing read!

    It's so good in fact, it ruined Irvine Welsh for me. Everything I read afterwards, just paled horribly in comparison. I read the sequel Porno, which seemed like a cheap cash in, a sequel that would've been a straight to DVD release in Hollywood. Glue I could just never get into, Maribou Stork Nightmares was maybe a little surreal for me, I didn't really enjoy it and the Acid House is highly overrated, disgusting and to be completely honest, pointless.

    I'm interested to hear what other people think of this writer. If maybe I'm missing some great books or if people have wildly different opinions on the books I just bashed and I should revisit them.
     
  2. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm still yet to get a copy of the novel, unfortunately, but I absolutely love the film.
    I've heard that Porno was pretty terrible (reintroducing Franco after the events of the film doesn't sound like a very good idea to me). There's also a prequel, called Skag Boys.

    As for the condoning immoral behaviour, I honestly don't mind it doing that. It does it proudly and it does it well. It's a slice of life without any of the pretence we all hold ourselves to. I like it. If you're recommending Trainspotting, though, I'm going to go out of my way to get a copy.
     
  3. Anarchist_Apple84
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    Anarchist_Apple84 Senior Member

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    There's a prequel? Damn, I'll look into that! Cheers Cruci.

    I'm definitely recommending the book, it's genuinely one of my fave books of all time.

    In regards to the "condoning immoral behaviour" aspect of the book, I wasn't knocking it, I was using it to reinforce my point that it might not be for everyone; not everyone is as open minded as us ;)

    My biggest gripe is how much it shadows everything else he has written. If there's a hidden gem out there, people, please point it out!
     
  4. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    I've only read Trainspotting and Porno, and I totally agree with you on them both. I love Trainspotting, it's utterly grim but brilliant, and like a subtitled film I forgot I was reading the accent very quickly. For some reason though the word 'fitba' got totally stuck in my head, and I still say it occasionally! I thought Porno started out kind of ok but it got silly really quickly, and the porn awards bit was just ludicruous. It would be good to hear if any of his other books are as good as Trainspotting.
     
  5. Anarchist_Apple84
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    Anarchist_Apple84 Senior Member

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    fitba? hahaha yeah, that one stuck with me, but not as much as Spud saying "likesay" - he uses it as punctuation!
     
  6. LaGs
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    LaGs Banned

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    I'm a massive Irvine Welsh fan, so I'll say that first of all.

    Trainspotting is definitely my all-time favourite book. Has there ever been a more perfect, hilarious scene than the job interview with Spud high on speed? Or Sick Boy and Renton, air rifle in hand, debating shooting a Pitbull in the arse while talking like Sean Connery? The chapter told from the point of view of Begbie is as mental as it is hilarious.

    After that I've read -

    Glue
    Acid House
    Reheated Cabbage
    Crime

    All of these books are, with the exception of The Acid House, horribly inferior to his debut. Glue was good in parts (Mostly anything involving Juice Terry) but faded in others. The novella at the end of the Acid house was worth the buy alone; and some of the short stories, although pointless, had me literally in tears of laughter. Reheated Cabbage was really average. And Crime was by far his worst book. This is his most recent work, and in it he attempts to be taken seriously, which was a shame. What marked him out earlier for me was his complete disregard for any literary convention. Welsh was subversive, dark, his characters immoral, recalcitrant, completely crazy. In crime he lost all of the dark humour which made me fall in love with him in the first place; he was obviously trying to test himself in this new, serious direction but for me, it felt like he was trying to write like somebody he wasn't.

    As far as I know the prequel to trainspotting, Skag Boys, hasn't been released yet, but I haven't checked in ages
     
  7. Jonathan22
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    Jonathan22 Contributing Member

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    'Trainspotting isn't for everyone. It takes a while to get your head arround the Scottish colloquial dialect he is writing in, it's incredibly crude, condones some highly immoral behaviour, excessive drug use and violence - but damn is it an amazing read!'

    I don't actually think the book condoned the acts at all, simply told them from the perspectives of the perpetrators who are of course going to at some extent justify their actions. Being Scottish I thought it was a brilliant read too, the dialect was great and something very entertaining and different.

    Imagine they showed the movie to young school children instead of the usual 'don't do drugs kids' talks they preach. How many less kids do you think would do drugs then?
     
  8. LaGs
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    LaGs Banned

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    There's no doubt the book as well as the film shows the destructive side of drugs. But there's a strange allure to them also (Which may sound a bit paradoxical) It's more borne out of the book than the film I think.

    And here's why: The main characters are all completely selfish, they do what they want, they have fun, their attitude is just basically f*ck everybody else. Essentially they're masters of their own universe. They have total disdain for society, for work and for anything that doesn't directly serve their interests. If you're young and impressionable, let's say round 16 or so, I reckon this notion could be quite dangerous. Imagine displaying this sort of lackadaisical attitude to someone still in school, and to them you say: Well, do you want to work, for the rest of your life, or do you want to go out and party and have a good time? For most young people, the answer would mostly be a non-issue. Having said that, while the characters are masters of their own universe, it's countered mostly by the chapter involving Renton when he's coming off heroin and going cold turkey. But then there's also a kind of twisted redemption of Renton who kicks the habit, but in doing so, betrays his friends. I'm not sure what kind of message, if at all, that sends out.

    All I can say is there's a weird attraction to the characters in the book. Like, for example, Renton and Sick boy are obviously very knowledgeable. They're funny, articulate - about politics, about their perceptions of others, the human psyche and in general the society they live in. The danger is that a young person might associate these sorts of things with the glamour of drugs, and they might conclude after all of that that, yea they might be worth trying after all.

    The flipside to that is another extreme, and it's what you consistently come across when drugs are debated - in the media or the TV or whatever. What you get in schools is scaremongering and horror stories as opposed to full and honest education. I remember going into my late teens thinking that I could die if I took an ecstacy tablet, which is bullshit. What I wasn't told was that when the drug was first invented it was used by psychiatrists who many thought it could play a part in the treatment of mental disorders. I was told that there is a toxicity in the drug, which is true, but I wasn't told that it isn't harmful in sporadic and sparse amounts. I heard stories about people jumping to their deaths and all that crap, but when I actually tried it out for myself, I quickly found that I was a lot more mellow, and civil, when trying the damn stuff as opposed to being occasionally violent and twisted, on alcohol.

    The thing is though, I can understand why this scaremongering exists. If there was a full and balanced discussion about drugs, what you'd get is much more people trying them. And that, of course, wouldn't be acceptable. It's better to keep people in the dark for the most part, and this means is that an honest discussion in the media will always be precluded.

    Wow that was a bit of a rant, sorry
     
  9. williechandran
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    williechandran New Member

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    I have read nearly everything by him. I am currently reading SKAG BOYS which I am liking a lot.

    The Mark Renton character is so interesting. In SKAG BOYS, Welsh seems to suggest that the rampant heroin use by Renton, Sick Boy and Spud are mainly due to the policies of the conservative Thatcher government of the early 80s. Renton is a very intelligent and ambitious young student with an attractive girlfriend. However, the very idea of becoming middle class repels him. When the Thatcher government takes over, Renton's grant is converted into a loan. He is sick of the prospect of spending his whole life paying off mortgages. At the University, he dislikes over-analyzing the novels because it takes away the pure joy of reading. And he reads a lot of books which are not a part of the curriculum.
     
  10. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    Filth is probably his best work since Trainspotting, in my opinion.
    As for the book 'condoning' drug use, it's not the author's place to condone or moralise, merely to reflect life through art. The reader makes their own moral judgements.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The reader will make his or her own judgements, but any author does inject attitudes and judgements as well. There is no such thing as an unbiased observer, even in the most factual journalism. Social commentary is a well-respected purpose for fiction. Consider the writings of Charles Dickens.
     
  12. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    True, though I generally treat contemptuously those that seek to blame any form of media for influencing people's actions.
    Not to trivialise it, but can Stephen King be held responsible for someone carrying out a heinous crime as depicted in one of his novels?
    I appreciate that's not what you're saying Cogito but many on the political right, have and do use these types of deeply flawed arguments. The Columbine massacre being an example. Marilyn Manson?
    In the case of Trainspotting, the character Renton is a junkie, the story is (largely) in first person narrative, ergo he is enthusiastic shall we say, about hard drugs.
    If writers start sterilising their work to 'protect' people then they cease to accurately commentate on the society they are portraying.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That I agree with. I just don't believe that a writer is expected to be an objective observer with no message to deliver. Although I dislike heavy-handed preaching or proselytizing, the author's values will, and perhaps should, permeate the work.
     
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