Skagboys

Skagboys

Book - 2012
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Mark Renton has it all: he's good-looking, young, with a pretty girlfriend and a place at university. But there's no room for him in the 1980s. Thatcher's government is destroying working-class communities across Britain, and the post-war certainties of full employment, educational opportunity and a welfare state are gone. When his family starts to fracture, Mark's life swings out of control and he succumbs to the defeatism which has taken hold in Edinburgh's grimmer areas. The way out is heroin.

It's no better for his friends. Spud Murphy is paid off from his job, Tommy Lawrence feels himself being sucked into a life of petty crime and violence - the worlds of the thieving Matty Connell and psychotic Franco Begbie. Only Sick Boy, the supreme manipulator of the opposite sex, seems to ride the current, scamming and hustling his way through it all.

Skagboys charts their journey from likely lads to young men addicted to the heroin which has flooded their disintegrating community. This is the 1980s: a time of drugs, poverty, AIDS, violence, political strife and hatred - but a lot of laughs, and maybe just a little love; a decade which changed Britain for ever. The prequel to the world-renowned Trainspotting , this is an exhilarating and moving book, full of the scabrous humour, salty vernacular and appalling behaviour that has made Irvine Welsh a household name.

Publisher: London : Jonathan Cape, c2012
ISBN: 9780224087902
Branch Call Number: WELSH
Characteristics: 548 p. ; 25 cm

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humbleworm
Aug 06, 2017

This 2012 prequel to Trainspotting and Porno spans a longer time frame and provides the back stories missing from those but you don't necessarily need to read the 3 books in chronological order (I read this last). Welsh takes this opportunity to cover off loose ends before they happen so it's a longer book with several less essential interludes and likely could have been condensed or split in two. The inclusion of brief historical notes helps greatly to set the context about this particularly bad socio-economic period. It's very understated in Welsh's series, but you'll find the same "prince among thieves" theme in Henry IV, My Own Private Idaho and Good Will Hunting.

p
PearlyBaker
Aug 04, 2014

One of those life-altering books that has revolutionized my entire vocabulary. It was a surreal journey for me as I began to have vivid dreams all night long that I was hanging out with Mark Renton, Spuds and Sick Boy chasing the skag. I'll read everything this bloody, brilliant, bastard has ever written and cry when I'm done.

c
codyoga
Apr 18, 2013

More often than not, 'Skagboys' is simultaneously hilarious and disturbing. Here we meet up with most of the character's from Welsh's (in)famous 'Trainspotting'. Essentially, this is the whole cast, before most of them - Renton, Spud, Sick Boy - were addicted to heroin. Clues into their upbringing, school and early friendships help round them out. Begbie, as ever, is a natural born terror who has changed little. The scenes and chapters more devoted to him are certifiably terrifying, his violence and insolence unbelievable. The language of the characters - written phonetically - is hard to get used to at first and usually quite depraved but elicits many laughs at even the most unlikely and despicable of times.
The story can seem erratic as it jumps from a few choice characters as it moves along from chapter to chapter. It is sometimes difficult (in the beginning of the book at least) to tell exactly who it is we're listening to, but as the story evolves and you become more acquainted with the characters it tends to become readily apparent who it is that's speaking at the moment.
The novel definitely has a momentum and a conclusion, but at times can seem to meander ('seems to' but does't really) Recommended for hardcore Irvine Welsh fans, but even the casual reader, stumbling into this universe for the first time will find something to enjoy here (and will probably be set on the road of devouring more of Welsh's novels)

a
Amy_Clay
Jun 25, 2012

This book is hilarious! I'm going to read the rest of the series over again :) Enjoy!

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humbleworm
Aug 07, 2017

humbleworm thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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