Trainspotting Book by Irvine Welsh

By reads
In addiction fiction
May 28th, 2014

trainspotting book review
For a very gritty book on heroin addiction and gangs in Scotland that has also been made into a movie, check out

Trainspotting Book by Irvine Welsh

Do you like down and dirty books with tons of swearing, drug use, gangs, and nose-thumbing at authority?  If so, this may be a good read for you.  Set in Welsh's native Scotland, it's a chronicle of a bunch of youths in their 20's who are heroin addicts and little else.  They subsist mostly off of state funds and a few of them struggle with whether or not they want to stop using drugs or just keep doing what they're doing. The main character of the book, Renton, does decide to "get clean" and goes to London to find a job.  Unfortunately, his drug using buddies come looking for him because they miss him.

“By definition, you have to live until you die. Better to make that life as complete and enjoyable an experience as possible, in case death is shite, which I suspect it will be.” - Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting

There is a A LOT of heroin use in this book.  However, it details the struggles that young adults have with breaking free from very strong ties that are enmeshed with drug use.  Oftentimes, using and abusing drugs gets intertwined with friendships and relationships and this gets very confusing and heartbreaking, especially for the person who starts to feel that they have had enough.  This is what I really got out of the book, despite it's rawness that was a bit of a turnoff for me.

For many, however, books that are "real" like this hold a lot of appeal and I particularly see this one as having appeal to those who are young in recovery.  I can also see parts of it being a trigger, though so be careful if you fear that this may be an issue for you.  If you haven't read the Trainspotting book and think that this may be your sort of read, check it out here:

Trainspotting Trainspotting
Author: Irvine Welsh
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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).

Irvine Welsh's controversial first novel, set on the heroin-addicted fringe of working-class youth in Edinburgh, is yet another exploration of the dark side of Scottishness. The main character, Mark Renton, is at the center of a clique of nihilistic slacker junkies with no hopes and no possibilities, and only "mind-numbing and spirit-crushing" alternatives in the straight world they despise. This particular slice of humanity has nothing left but the blackest of humor and a sharpness of wit. American readers can use the glossary in the back to translate the slang and dialect--essential, since the dialogue makes the book. This is a bleak vision sung as musical comedy.


  • W W Norton Company



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