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Skagboys [Paperback]

Irvine Welsh
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Paperback, May 7 2012 --  
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Book Description

May 7 2012
Both a prequel to the world-renowned Trainspotting, and an alternative version of it, Skagboys is Irvine Welsh's greatest work.
 
Mark Renton seems to have it all: he's the first in his family to go to university, he's young, has a pretty girlfriend and a great social life. But 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 badly handicapped younger brother dies the family bonds start to weaken, his life flips out of control, and he succumbs to the defeatism and the heroin which has taken hold in Edinburgh's grimmer areas.
 
His friends face similar challenges. Spud Murphy is paid off from his job and faces long-term unemployment, while Tommy Lawrence feels that only love can save him from being sucked into a life of petty crime and violence -- exemplified respectively by the thieving Matty Connell and psychotic Franco Begbie. And then there is Sick Boy, the supreme manipulator of the opposite sex, scamming and hustling his way through life.
 
Skagboys charts their journey from likely lads to young men addicted to the heroin which has flooded their disintegrating community. This is the 1980s: not the sanitized version, of upbeat pop music, mullets, shoulder-pads and MTV, but a time of drugs, poverty, AIDS, violence, political strife and hatred -- 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.

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Review

"One of the most significant writers in Britain. He writes with style, imagination, wit and force."
—Times Literary Supplement
 
"The voice of punk, grown up, grown wiser and grown eloquent."
—The Times

About the Author

IRVINE WELSH is the author of nine previous works of fiction, most recently Crime.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ah barry book June 6 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Classic welsh all the information back ground on all of our beloved scottish junkies. Spot on i loved it a must read for all of our inn er addicts
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5.0 out of 5 stars Junkie Dilemma #59 Dec 25 2013
Format:Paperback
This is not a book you can finish in one sitting, but also not one you want to put down. Much like Trainspotting and Porno before it, it is full of stark imagery of the life of a junkie, and all of the prevailing circumstances that could potentially lead one to go down that path. It is also a very poignant criticism of Thatcherism, and a scathing critique of the misery that her policies brought upon the so-called 'underclasses'. With that historical component to it, and from a purely entertaining stand-point, this is a book any Irvine Welsh fan must read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Did not want to end Sept. 11 2013
Format:Paperback
Having first read Trainspotting, I fell hard for Irvine's characters. Irvine has the ability to make the reader better understand their own faults and weaknesses, while alluding to a macro-socioeconomic crisis common to every society . From the first page, it's the type of book you want to keep on going. Highly recommended!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The youth of the trainspotting boys Oct. 14 2012
By bookweasel TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This was my first long flight book of summer. It runs through the lives of the characters before Trainspotting. A well written book told through the eyes of each character in turn. As it is told in the Leith dialect you need to get used to the phrasing. Full of both pathos and humor it has a ring of truth that will delight most but will offend rehab councilors and other know-it-all socialists.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  37 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fitting Start to the Trainspotting Trilogy May 7 2012
By tones4317 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a long time Welsh fan, I suppose I could be considered a little biased - but really, in all honesty, this is one of the cult Scottish author's finest efforts to date.

Skagboys revisits the sunny port of Leith and adjoining Edinburgh, and the eclectic cast of characters that made up Welsh's debut effort - the drugged-out classic Trainspotting. All your skeevy old pals are here... ever-acerbic Mark Renton, sweet natured Spud, scheming Sickboy and, naturally, the delightfully psychotic pugilist, Begbie. Only this time, we meet Leith's finest schemies in their early twenties - just as they're developing that nasty little heroin habit which was the focal point of Trainspotting.

So yes, it's a prequel to Trainspotting, featuring characters that should be familiar to fans of the earlier book or its cinematic adaptation. But, as always, Welsh is not afraid to delve a little deeper. While on the surface a simple story of a hopeless descent into addiction, the novel also chronicles the sad devolution of the working class in dystopian mid-eighties Scotland.

It's quite interesting, but also quite depressing, to bear witness to the slow ravaging of blue collar Scottish society, whose denizens turn to drugs and violence to numb the economic and social hardships incurred by the rise of Maggie's Farm. The novel also deals with the rampant incursion of AIDS into Edinburgh - once Europe's AIDS capital - which spreads all too rapidly through shared needle use and illicit sex.

If you're a fan of Trainspotting, or it's excellent sequel Porno (which revisits our anti-heroes in their mid thirties) then I simply can't recommend this read enough. In the off chance you've read some of Welsh's other works, and haven't got around to Trainspotting, then I'd advise you to start here. Be warned, though - as with all the author's works, this is definitely NOT for the faint of heart.

Vintage Welsh. It's a good thing.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A five star read May 28 2012
By Ctwilliams - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Skagboys is a worthy prequel in the 'Trainspotting' trilogy and a five star read. In the novel the exploits of its now famous four characters (Rents, Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie) come of age in the Thatcherite dystopia of early 1980s working class Edinburgh. Welsh's characters face a world of tough choices, unemployment, drugs and generational poverty with a headlong rage that is the authors trademark. The hardback books hefty 548 pages highlights the family friends and developing `love interests' of the principal characters as they move, mate and scheme from the Port of Leith and into the wider world. Skagboys is vintage Welsh, with some of the best characterisation to date of his anti heroes at work rest and play. The novel is at times sad, bad, hilarious and profound with imagery and dialogue that's pure catnip to the converted/perverted Welsh reader.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 24 hours of nothing new Sept. 7 2013
By Jennifer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I Loved Welsh's work when I was younger, have several UK first editions. Trainspotting was amazing. Welsh excels at creating relationships between "mates" who pick on, tease, and care for each other because "he's a mate and all." I've never really been impressed with his female characters. If you're a Trainspotting fan, you already know that Begbie is a violent psychopath, Sick Boy is selfish, Spud is sweet but not clued-in, and Renton is a bit complicated. Skag Boys doesn't really offer much new material - we already know how Renton felt about his younger brother, that Sick Boy is s smooth-talking ladies' man, etc. I gave the book 3 stars because it was sort of fun to hear the guys rip on each other again, but we know this story.
This is a review of the audible version -- Tam Dean Burn was excellent as always - i'd highly suggest trying an audio version of Welsh's work to readers who have difficulty with the printed dialect.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scotland's Dickens March 8 2013
By Charles Hargreaves - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
One of the best books this author has written, it is remarkable in scope, humor, depth of character, the ability to emit the most genuinely skin-crawlyingly disturbing scenes, followed by some of the funniest -- and always written with the unflinching respect of truth. I don't understand how he does it, but as busy as I am, I read this 500-plus page book at every possible free moment, sad now that it's over. And don't be put off by it's overly grim cover -- sorry publisher, but it just doesn't fit the book, in my opinion.
Just as with his other books, Welsh writes with phoenetically-accurate dialogue -- it takes some time to get used to it, and I recommend your first read be a good 50 pages to get the flow of the writing in your head. In Skagboys he does something even more remarkable, which is to write his different characters with appropriately different accents, reflecting their origin and place in life. I found I carried their voices around in my head during the days of reading Skagboys.
I have listened to interviews with Welsh and it is clear, as I have often heard said, that he is a genuinely decent and incredibly nice guy. Somehow that makes reading him even more pleasurable, for this reader anyway.
Do yourself a favor, and read this book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welsh at his drug rush best! May 23 2012
By Bretskii - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Classic Welsh and such a joy again to get inside the minds of my favourite literary characters. Up there with all the lieth sagas he has done. If you love Welsh, you must read this!
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