Skagboys

Skagboys

4.6 5
by Irvine Welsh
     
 

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Prequel to the best-selling phenomenon Trainspotting, this exhilarating and moving novel shows how Welsh’s colorful miscreants first went wrong.
Mark Renton’s life seems to be on track: university, pretty girlfriend, even social success. But, in this prequel to Trainspotting, after the death of his younger brother, Rent falls apart and starts

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Overview

Prequel to the best-selling phenomenon Trainspotting, this exhilarating and moving novel shows how Welsh’s colorful miscreants first went wrong.
Mark Renton’s life seems to be on track: university, pretty girlfriend, even social success. But, in this prequel to Trainspotting, after the death of his younger brother, Rent falls apart and starts hanging around with his old pals, including Sick Boy, Spud, and Begbie, and being drawn irresistibly into their wacked-out plans.
Set against 1980s Thatcher-era Edinburgh—with its high unemployment, low expectations, and hard-to-come-by money and drugs? Irvine Welsh’s colorful crew lunges from one darkly hilarious misadventure to the next. Gritty, moving, and exhilarating, Skagboys paints their dizzying downward spiral with scabrous humor and raw language.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Built upon 100,000 words set aside in the process of writing Trainspotting comes this prequel set in gritty early ’80s Leith, Edinburgh. The familiar voices of Mark “Rent Boy” Renton, Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson, Danny “Spud” Murphy, Frank Begbie, Matty Connell, and Alison Lozinska crowd the pages of this sprawling narrative. Mark, who goes off to Aberdeen University, plans a rail tour of Europe with the girl of his dreams, Fiona Conyers, and seems poised to leave behind old mates like Ali, who secures a cushy job assisting efforts to eradicate the Dutch elm disease ravaging Edinburgh’s trees. On her first day at work Ali accompanies her boss to a pub and meets his brother, who is secretly smuggling industrial grade heroin out of the local pharmaceutical plant, inadvertently unleashing another ravaging early ’80s disease, AIDS (Welsh details both in newsy “Notes on an Epidemic” chapters). Meanwhile Matty, Simon, Frank, and Danny idly wander the streets in pursuit of pints, skag, lassies, brawls, and kindness. But after Mark deceives Fiona about his own drug use, and his disabled little brother dies, he joins the downward heroin-fueled trajectory of his disaffected peers. Parental intervention, arrests, and even rehab can’t change the course of their addiction as they become increasingly cynical and uninterested in anything other than the next fix. Their combined experiences twist together the fading London punk scene, the declining power of the proletariat, hooliganism, neo-Nazism, and the AIDS epidemic that characterized Thatcherite Britain. Careening between boisterous, belligerent, hilarious, and maudlin emotional registers like a drunk at a party, this novel has a dizzy energy in spite of its aimless plot and general corpulence. As with much of Welsh’s oeuvre, it’s not for the uninitiated—the prose is dense with Edinburgh dialect, disturbing sexual encounters, explosive violence, and much sorrow. Agent: Jenny Chapman, Jonathan Cape. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Mark Renton should have been the first of his generation to make it out of government housing and do something with his life. Instead, a dalliance with heroin begins a long downward spiral. This prequel to Welsh's seminal 1993 Trainspotting shows how those characters first got into their dire straits. The story hops among multiple narrators and is filled with Scottish slang and phonetic spellings, which is at first disconcerting. Soon, however, the text develops a poetic rhythm similar to Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange. The author further establishes Edinburgh's bleak mood during the early years of Thatcherism by breaking up the narrative with straightforward factual chapters that describe how the Conservative government's policy of economic austerity and erosion of workers' rights engendered a desperation among the lower classes that made dropping out and becoming a heroin addict seem like an understandable lifestyle choice. VERDICT Recommended for fans of gritty European fiction and drug lit. [See Prepub Alert, 3/19/12.]—Peter M. Petruski, Cumberland Cty. Lib. Syst., Carlisle, PA,
Financial Times
The cumulative force of Skagboys is something close to magnificent . . . an extraordinary piece of work— Sam Leith
Booklist
“Starred review: Stunning . . . devastating. . . . A haunting and important book that deserves serious attention.”
Sam Leith - Financial Times
“The cumulative force of Skagboys is something close to magnificent…An extraordinary piece of work.”
Keir Graff - Booklist
“Nearly 20 years after Trainspotting, Welsh delivers a stunning prequel that shows how his characters got hooked on heroin…Though Welsh's characters are younger, he is older, and his writing has become even more nuanced…A haunting and important book that deserves serious attention.”
Katie Haegele - Philadelphia Inquirer
“Welsh wants us to know these guys, to feel their humanity…the novel is nothing short of a masterpiece.”
Financial Times - Sam Leith
“The cumulative force of Skagboys is something close to magnificent…An extraordinary piece of work.”
Booklist - Keir Graff
“Nearly 20 years after Trainspotting, Welsh delivers a stunning prequel that shows how his characters got hooked on heroin…Though Welsh's characters are younger, he is older, and his writing has become even more nuanced…A haunting and important book that deserves serious attention.”
Philadelphia Inquirer - Katie Haegele
“Welsh wants us to know these guys, to feel their humanity…the novel is nothing short of a masterpiece.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393088731
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
09/17/2012
Pages:
544
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

Irvine Welsh is the author of Trainspotting, Ecstacy, Filth (soon to be a major motion picture), Glue, Porno, and Crime, among other works. Welsh is also producing movies and writing screenplays. A native of Edinburgh, he lives in Chicago and Miami.

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