This was an amazing read. It’s violent, offensive, stomach-churning, tragic and yet somehow, under all this, deeply poignant.
I’ve seen the film, which I remember as being a classic though not in a cosy night in sort of way. The book, I feel, is even better. Welsh takes you through a community of characters, changing style and perspective with ease as he goes. All of them have one thing in common: their struggle to make sense of life. Most fail, doomed by their orbit around the black holes of relative poverty, drugs, sex or simply where they’re from.
The whole is written in the vernacular, the majority of which is Edinburgh dialect Scottish. There’s the occasional foray into Cockney and one line of Brummie. If you’re not familiar with the dialects of the UK, you’re going to have a hard time just reading this, let alone understanding it.
Only one of the characters seems to make it out of the various messes they find themselves in. But the book’s final message is that in order to succeed, you have to step on your fellow men. This is the same message as “success is material” and morality takes a huge battering in this book. At one point, morality is questioned intensely. But no more than as a subject for an essay.
This, I feel is the cynical underside of the book and gives me a glimpse into the man who wrote it. Remove morality from any equation though and you reduce us all to anarchic animals fighting only for a survival that’s as pointless as it is desperate.
Trainspotting doesn’t offer any solutions to the moral morass it describes. It simply describes attempts to find them. I was happy that the novel stayed true to life in that no one found a solution. Had it done so, it would have proved that we are able to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. It is bad news that we cannot. But there is Good News. You’ll just have to look elsewhere than this novel to find it.
The sweat wis lashing oafay Sick Boy; he wis trembling.
The thought both terrified and excited him as he contemplated life in Amsterdam.
terrible > poor > mediocre > okay > good > very good> excellent > superb