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Skagboys: Irvine Welsh’s Prequel to Trainspotting


I guess I’d better start boning up on my Scottish dialect – fitba means football, right? – gritty novelist Irvine Welsh has a new book out.

Skagboys is the prequel to his 1993 darkly hilarious (yet horribly depressing) novel Trainspotting, made into a hugely successful 1996 film starring Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle and Kelly MacDonald. Skagboys shows the reader the earlier times of Renton, Spud, Sick Boy and the rest.

Marked by Irvine Welsh’s scabrous humor and raw Scottish vernacular, Skagboys transports us to 1980s Edinburgh, where the Trainspotting crew is just getting started. Mark Renton has it all: the first in his family to attend university, he has a pretty girlfriend and a great social life. But when economic uncertainties and family problems intervene, Rent succumbs to the defeatism—not to mention the drug use—that has taken hold in Edinburgh’s tougher quarters. His friends are responding according to personality. Laid off, Spud Murphy is paralyzed in the face of long-term unemployment. Sick Boy, supreme manipulator of the opposite sex, is scamming and hustling for money and drugs. And meanwhile, psycho Franco Begbie is scaring the hell out of everyone. Darkly humorous, Skagboys gives a gritty and gripping portrait of a time, not unlike ours, when money was scarce, unemployment was high, and drugs seemed the answer.

Sadly, preliminary investigation indicates that Skagboys is not a Choose-your-own-adventure book, as I had hoped; the reader will not be given the option to get those boys into a hot shower and some good jobs, and save them from the fictional future we know is coming for them.

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Beth Carswell

About Beth Carswell

I've been reading, selling, researching, loving and writing about books with AbeBooks since 2000.

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