- Title: Trainspotting
- Author: Irvine Welsh
- First Published: 1993
Trainspotting is a novel about a group of friends who are addicted to drugs, alcohol or have a tendency to indulge in criminal activity. The book is set in poverty-stricken Scotland in the late 1980s.
Unfortunately, Trainspotting wasn’t my cup of tea. Structurally, the point of narration shifts from a third person narrator to a first person narrator, to a different first person narrator and so on. It became incredibly difficult, incredibly quickly, to follow the plot and learn about the characters.
I also didn’t like Welsh’s use of explicit sexual language and swearing.
The Scottish dialect in the narration and dialogue was somewhat confusing too, albeit interesting. Regional accents and dialects are important in conveying realism, which is necessary for a book which places itself in the social realist genre.
I am sure other readers have had similar reactions to books with a regional basis, such as Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte, 1847) or The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1911) which are set in the depths of Yorkshire and the dialogue reflects this. Being a ‘Yorkshire lass’ myself, this form of dialect doesn’t bother me. I suppose Trainspotting is Welsh’s modern take on this.
However, despite not enjoying the book, Trainspotting was still fascinating, from an analytical perspective. The characters exist, rather than live. There is a focus on survival, rather than quality of life. The stagnation of action is reflective of their stagnant drug and alcohol addictions, and this is quite sad.
Although this kind of modern social realism wasn’t for me, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy Trainspotting for yourself.