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Trainspotting (1993) - Irvine Welsh By Iain Stott

A person without hope is little more than an animal. With no ability to see the future, the present is all that there is. There are no rules. The word consequence is not in their vocabulary. Theft, violence, drugs (legal and illegal), casual sex; when there is no tomorrow, anything goes. Irvine Welsh's first novel, set in Leith, Edinburgh, explores these hopeless lives in all their grimy detail.
Marketed as a novel, Trainspotting is essentially a collection of short stories, each loosely connected by location and common character. The majority of the stories are narrated by one or other of the myriad of troubled characters that inhabit Welsh's world. With that in mind, the author has written these vignettes in an Edinburgh variety of Scots, which may cause problems to the untrained ear (eye.) I , personally, had little trouble with the language, as I have a number of relatives from Scotland, and grew up listening to these words; although, at first it was a little jarring to see them written down. But once I found my Edinburgh voice it was a delight to read.
The most featured character, and the only one with whom all the other characters have a common connection is Mark Renton, affectionately known as Rents or Rent Boy to his friends, a young man blessed with more intelligence than most (not that it seems to have done him much good), who finds life with and without heroin barely tolerable. One suspects that he prefers life on heroin, as a heroin addict has but one worry, albeit a great one, namely the procurement of heroin. When off the skag (heroin) he has to worry about dealing with family and friends, his re-awakened sex-drive, the aging power of make-up, his soap-dodging, Hun Weedje relatives (loyalist Glaswegians), and the Hibbies, amongst other things. His is a life of wasted potential.
The most likable character in the book is Daniel Murphy, better known as Spud, a man that, although greatly effected by his surroundings, (he is a heroin addict and petty thief), has not been stripped of his humanity. He abhors the casual violence that his friends commit towards animals and their fellow Leithians, but he tolerates it; He has no choice, this is where he lives, this is who he is, this is his lot in life. Spud provides the heart of the novel.
After the brains of Renton and the heart of Spud, comes the brawn of Francis Franco Begbie, an ultra-violent heed-the-ball, and the sex of Simon Sick Boy Williamson, a handsome young man who could charm the knickers off of a nun. Franco prides himself on being there for his mates, that is, as long as he can use violence to remedy any problems that you might have. If your problems extend beyond pub brawls, he'll be nowhere to be seen. For Sick Boy, friends are merely people to have a quick drink with in-between sexual conquests.
The other characters, too numerous to list, include: addicts, dealers, sexually precocious 14-year-olds, HIV sufferers, prostitutes, students, benefit -scammers, alcoholics, dead babies, racists and rapists. They all share one thing in common, a lack of hope. They are born into a world in which unemployment, violence and addiction are the norm; a world in which HIV and AIDS, something that quietly haunts nearly every page of this novel, is not feared as a possibility, but merely acknowledged, accepted even, as something of an inevitability. These people never had a chance.
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