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Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh - Not for the Fainthearted
... and if a ten ton truck kills the both of us, to die by your side well the pleasure the privelege is mine...
Never in all my years of reading have I been so entranced with a work. This one definitely takes the cake as far as good reads go. I learned the book from a friend who is a serious reader. She gave it to me as a christmas gift. At first blush, it seems like a challenging read as the words were written in native Scot english where "do not" is spelled as "dinnae". I had to read it aloud at first just to get what its actually saying.
The book is about the travails of a group of friends in their 20s. The story showcases the lowest of lowlife in Edinburgh and highlights drug abuse and dependence. The antihero Mark Renton is in the thick of all the stories, for the book is actually a series of short stories on the life of the characters. The depictions range from the utterly funny to the utterly sick. Welsh has painted a scaringly realistic picture of drug dependence and how it twists people. What lengths they'd go for the next hit.
What qualifies Trainspotting as novel and not a collection of short stories is the appearance and reappearance of the main characters throughout the book, there is as well some form of chronology in the story with recurring themes on friendship, drug use as a form of escapism and the angst-ridden life, which was the reason for the drug-taking in the first place.
The story gravitates towards the deteriorating relationship of the friends Renton, Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie, the end being that Renton decides to rip his friends off their share in a drug deal. He runs off to begin a new life free of drugs and his drug addicted friends.
The book, which is also the author's debut received critical success but missed out on major recognitions for offending the sensibilities of some quarters. A stage play, a motion picture and a cool soundtrack became its by-products. The last chapter even quoted the words from the Smith's song "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out", placing the book in the 1980s. Which puts it way up on my list because to me, this song is one of the best ones ever written.
I think the most searing part of the book is when the group who has been taking heroin for days suddenly noticed that one of their friend's infant child has stopped crying, finally revealing that the child has indeed died of starvation and negligence, and is in the early stages of decomposition.
If you're up for a challenging literary venture, I dare you to pick this one up. While its welling with surreality, it scared the bejesus out of me and totally floored me as well.