Friday, October 11

The Idiot's Guide to Trainspotting

I started reading IRVINE WELSH'S 'TRAINSPOTTING'.  Perhaps you're better acquainted with director Danny Boyle's 1996 film adaptation.  Having seen and enjoyed the movie, I was intrigued by what the book would be like.  I certainly wasn't prepared for the adventure that awaited me.  

Thinking in Scottish

At uni, we talk about the importance of developing a unique 'voice' as a writer.  Never before have I been confronted with such a shockingly unique voice as that of Irvine Welsh in Trainspotting.  

It is written in dialect.  The first paragraph succeeded in annihilating my expectations:  
"The sweat wis lashing oafay Sick Boy; he wis trembling.  Ah wis jist sitting thair, focusing own the telly, trying no tae notice the c***.  He wis bringing me soon.  Ah tried tae keep ma attention own the Jean-Claude Van Damme video."  
Don't take for granted how difficult it is to get used to this.  I normally read aloud to myself, but the dialect made it impossible.   I simply couldn't get my tongue or brain to work fast enough.  

However, after reading in my head for a while, it all began to make sense.  It was slow going, but the words flowed.  I imagine it would feel similar to when you finally know enough of a language to have a proper conversation.  

And the very funny thing is that it became so natural to my brain, that even after I had put the book down, I continued to think in a Scottish accent in my head!  When I spoke aloud, it actually made me feel weird that my voice didn't match the one in my thoughts.  


When I borrowed Trainspotting from the library I didn't intend to read it.  I had it in mind to quickly glance over the first chapter, just as a study in narrative voice.  But I've fallen prey to its irresistibly compelling narration and now there's no turning back.  

Welsh's mastery of language is sensational and obvious.  I'm proud to flaunt the fact that I'm reading this book because it is evidently a classic and at the very least, an adventure I will have trouble forgetting.  

If you need any more convincing to check it out, read on....

Criticism for Trainspotting

'The voice of punk, grown up, grown wiser and grown eloquent' - Sunday Times 

'A novel perpetually in a starburst of verbal energy - a vernacular spectacular... The stories we hear are retched from the gullet' - Scotland on Sunday

'Trainspotting marked the capital debut of a capital writer.  This marvellous novel might feel like a bad day in bedlam, but boy is it exhilarating' - Jeff Torrington 


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