CR: Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

I’d always known Trainspotting as one of those books which I should read, but had not the time or inclination to. It’s not in our school library – copious amounts of drugs, alcohol, and swearing isn’t the vibe that my Catholic school is aiming for – and I always chose to buy other books instead of it. But here I am, having to read it for an English project and with my teacher’s edition in my hands.

Complete with underlined sections and pencil markings, but a psychological analysis of these is too far for 1 pm on a Thursday afternoon.

I’m glad that I’m reading it at this point in my life, rather than a couple of years ago. There are certain books which you should read at certain times, and this is one of them. Just as Catcher in the Rye has changed for me, in my movement from teenagehood to adulthood, so I think Trainspotting will also change when I go to uni this October. I don’t know how, but it’s going to be good.

Despite my initial misgivings – I was told to ‘read all of it in an Edinburgh accent’, which I promptly interpreted as ‘read it as Mike Myers playing Shrek’, which is horrendous – I am engrossed. I’ve spent a lot of time this week thinking about institutionalised privilege, and class, (you can tell that I’m a bundle of fun), and the ruggedness of these characters is bloody refreshing. There’s a frankness to the lot of them, and the expletives are absolutely fan-fucking-tastic. I’m not exactly the cleanest-mouthed person, and not much of the literature I read reflects this part of my personality – Trainspotting is very much the exception. If you take offence at the f-word, the c-word, and everything in between, I’d recommend that you pull your socks up and read this. You probably won’t enjoy it, but a swearing bout is a satisfying solution to most problems.

Breakups, missed trains, poor hands in card games. The whole shebang. If in doubt, swear it out.

I think I understand why this is a seminal book. I can’t describe it, but there’s something so fresh about it. There’s an air of putting two fingers up to the system. I love it. If you want to read a book about Edinburgh, or drugs, or just raw life, then read Trainspotting. If you’re looking to read anything at all, read Trainspotting. It’s refreshing and funny and dark and cynical and I love the way in which it doesn’t really give a fuck about itself.

And I’m back! Having spent a few days in Malaga, I’m back and ready to change the world. Have you read Trainspotting? Seen the film? Drop me a line – bonus points for expletives. 




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