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Sick Boys

Jenny Turner

2 December 1993
Trainspotting 
by Irvine Welsh.
Secker, 344 pp., £8.99, July 1993, 0 436 56567 6
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... I first heard of IrvineWelsh about a year ago, on a visit to the house of a friend of mine in Glasgow. This friend and I were talking, as we often do, about whether or not it is possible objectively to explain the special ...

Seconds from a Punch-Up

Andy Beckett: Irvine Welsh

10 May 2012
Skagboys 
by Irvine Welsh.
Cape, 548 pp., £12.99, April 2012, 978 0 224 08790 2
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... of Trainspotting. It had been published the previous summer, and was still in the early stages of its journey from cult status to ubiquity. Soon afterwards I too found myself improbably mesmerised by IrvineWelsh’s often squalid tales of young heroin addicts from Leith, Edinburgh’s blustery, downtrodden port, in the late 1980s. With its needles and cravings, its bare junkie flats and shivery ...
30 March 2000
Canteen Culture 
by Ike Eze-anyika.
Faber, 295 pp., £9.99, March 2000, 0 571 20079 6
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Charlieunclenorfolktango 
by Tony White.
Codex, 158 pp., £7.95, December 1999, 1 899598 13 8
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Filth 
by Irvine Welsh.
Vintage, 392 pp., £5.99, August 1999, 0 09 959111 1
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... maunderings rattling about behind the self-conscious strangeness and writing-bum-on-a-wall prose. The benchmark for Charlieunclenorfolktango and, to a much lesser extent, Canteen Culture, is IrvineWelsh’s sprawling bent-copper novel Filth. When it was first published in 1998, the word-of-mouth was very bad indeed. Compared to White’s book, however, it comes as a relief of sorts – Welsh at ...
21 August 1997
God’s Gift to Women 
by Don Paterson.
Faber, 64 pp., £6.99, May 1997, 9780571177622
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... of Carol Ann Duffy, Kate Clanchy or David Kinloch, and the fiction of Christopher Whyte or A.L. Kennedy. Some of these poets and novelists are wary of each other. Jamie recently refused to read with IrvineWelsh because of what she saw as the misogyny of one of his short stories. Yet even such wariness reinforces a sense that these issues are worth contesting. This is scarcely a new subject: Muriel ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: 10,860 novels

23 August 2001
... and the beginning of the British one. This is a distinction that, Rushdie aside, seems to have passed Moss by. He doesn’t refer to Seth or Ishiguro or Kureishi, all famous men, often praised. IrvineWelsh and Andrew O’Hagan are mentioned in passing, in quotes from Matt Thorne and someone unnamed at Granta, but Moss himself is strangely silent on the subject of Scottish fiction; James Kelman ...

More Pain, Better Sentences

Adam Mars-Jones: Satire and St Aubyn

7 May 2014
Lost for Words 
by Edward St Aubyn.
Picador, 261 pp., £12.99, May 2014, 978 0 330 45422 3
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Books 
by Charlie Hill.
Tindal Street, 192 pp., £6.99, November 2013, 978 1 78125 163 8
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... when such a book would make the Booker longlist, let alone the short? Satire isn’t supposed to make reality look good by the contrast but to skewer it. There’s a perfunctory stab at school-of-IrvineWelsh shock-horror – ‘Death Boy’s troosers were round his ankies. The only vein in his body that hadna bin driven into hiding was in his cock’ – but if Trainspotting missed the Booker ...

Just a Big Silver Light

Theo Tait: Alan Warner

25 May 2006
The Worms Can Carry Me to Heaven 
by Alan Warner.
Cape, 390 pp., £11.99, May 2006, 0 224 07129 7
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... to do so have not been promising. There is some good and interesting writing in both the surreal These Demented Lands (1997) and The Man who Walks (2002), a mixture of Beckettish tramp routines and IrvineWelsh-style porno-realism. But both seem to me ultimately very bad, rather like embarrassing and pretentious concept albums: full of show-offy references and silly avant-garde gestures. Judging from ...

Whatever

Andy Beckett: Dennis Cooper’s short novel

21 May 1998
Guide 
by Dennis Cooper.
Serpent’s Tail, 176 pp., £8.99, March 1998, 1 85242 586 5
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... empty living room, then the novel stops. After three years, another volume takes off from Cooper’s small publisher, flies under the Daily Mail’s radar and flashes past his persistent admirers – IrvineWelsh and, inevitably, Ellis, who calls Cooper ‘the last literary outlaw in mainstream American fiction’. Increasingly, under variations of this billing, interviews with and reviews of Cooper are ...

Lager and Pernod

Frank Kermode: Alan Warner

22 August 2002
The Man Who Walks 
by Alan Warner.
Cape, 280 pp., £16.99, May 2002, 0 224 06294 8
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... will be purged for the benefit of the English portion of the audience, to say nothing of the prudes. But perhaps we will be expected to have come to terms by now with the Scots of James Kelman and IrvineWelsh, noting that the proportion of obscene language seems to be even higher in demotic Scots than in demotic English, at any rate in novels. Somebody should look into this matter. The work ‘fuck ...

Diary

Jenny Turner: ‘T2 Trainspotting’

16 February 2017
... Twenty years on​ from the first Trainspotting movie, and IrvineWelsh still cannae act to save his life. In the original, he took the part of Mikey Forrester, the Muirhouse-based purveyor of inferior opiate products, the one who sold the suppositories Mark Renton shat ...

Fairy Lights

Jenny Turner

2 November 1995
Morvern Callar 
by Alan Warner.
Cape, 224 pp., £9.99, February 1995, 0 224 04011 1
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... that they’re only shapes made out of words. I started recommending this novel to people as the ‘first great rave novel’. Then if that didn’t work: ‘Man writes as woman. Scottish. Puffed by IrvineWelsh.’ And such excellent dance writing: The way Sacaea was doing it the music was just a huge journey in that darkness ... I slid my foot to the left. You felt the whole side of a face lay ...

Whamming

Ian Sansom: A novel about work

2 December 2004
Some Great Thing 
by Colin McAdam.
Cape, 358 pp., £12.99, March 2004, 9780224064552
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... and seeking rescue; it’s a book about life’s work. The great thing about Jerry, though, is that he’s not a novelist manqué or an insufferable type sitting in a library. He’s more like an IrvineWelsh character gone legit. He’s a plasterer, but not just any old plasterer. Jerry’s a plasterer from a long line of plasterers, one of the 50,000 members of the Plasterers’ and Cement Masons ...

Smiles Better

Andrew O’Hagan: Glasgow v. Edinburgh

23 May 2013
On Glasgow and Edinburgh 
by Robert Crawford.
Harvard, 345 pp., £20, February 2013, 978 0 674 04888 1
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... that you cannot – despite my evil attempts – use the book as a primer on how to stoke up the ancient and holy rivalries. For that, we will have to content ourselves with Alex Salmond and IrvineWelsh, my two prime provocateurs and opponents when it comes to establishing Glasgow’s obvious claim to being Scotland’s only true city. Here are my compelling arguments: 1. In Edinburgh they’re not ...

Thought-Quenching

Thomas Jones: Q and China Miéville

7 January 1999
Deadmeat 
by Q..
Sceptre, 256 pp., £6.99, May 1997, 0 340 68558 1
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King Rat 
by China Miéville.
Macmillan, 333 pp., £9.99, November 1998, 0 333 73881 0
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... of the novel in the multimedia age, club fiction seems a fair attempt to push the form in a fresh direction. One of the most successful (in every sense) and seasoned practitioners of the genre is IrvineWelsh. When Q writes that the ravers entering a club ‘were ready to escape the confusion and turmoil of their day to day lives’, he is merely telling us what Welsh succeeds in making us share. In ...

Bad Shepherd

Robert Crawford: James Hogg

5 April 2001
The Collected Works of James Hogg. Vol. VIII: The ‘Spy’ 
edited by Gillian Hughes.
Edinburgh, 641 pp., £60, March 2000, 9780748613656
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... exploit and develop international readerships. MacDiarmid was less immediately successful although he was equally keen to manipulate taste. He even set up a book club to promote his own publications. IrvineWelsh, Scotland’s highest profile recent literary exporter, is a master of the trumpet-blast, and scathingly obsessed with the topic of home. He also writes at times like a canny man with an MBA ...

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