Customer Reviews


183 Reviews
5 star:
 (140)
4 star:
 (23)
3 star:
 (8)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:
 (9)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing - visceral slices of life from the Edinburgh streets
The first thing to point out is that the book is very different from the (excellent) film.
This is an amazing book; essentially a collection of vignettes about Edinburgh street life among the heroin users strung together by a common cast and a narrative about Renton escaping.
Making heavy use of the local patois, the book can be difficult to read but it is well...
Published on 7 Jan 2005 by John E. Davidson

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Completely misses the points
As a train devotee and regular visitor to the platforms up and down the length of the land I refute how this is representative of the 27th largest (and fastest growing) hobby in the UK today. I stuck with the Gaelic text until the end of the line in the hope of some mention of the Blue Rocket or a passage on Thermos Flasks and the photo v notepad evidencing factions that...
Published 1 month ago by P Benson


‹ Previous | 1 219 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing - visceral slices of life from the Edinburgh streets, 7 Jan 2005
This review is from: Trainspotting (Paperback)
The first thing to point out is that the book is very different from the (excellent) film.
This is an amazing book; essentially a collection of vignettes about Edinburgh street life among the heroin users strung together by a common cast and a narrative about Renton escaping.
Making heavy use of the local patois, the book can be difficult to read but it is well worth preserving because the language is an essential element in bringing the amazing cast of characters to life.
The film does have an impact here - as the casting affects your image of the characters - this is not really a problem as the casting was generally excellent - Ewan McGregor and Jonny Lee Miller fitted my mental images of Renton and Sick Boy very well. Robert Carlyle did not conform to my mental image of Begbie but that doesn't really matter as in many ways he was even more terrifying.
Also note that this is not a book for the faint-hearted - it is often graphic and disturbing in its portrayal of drug addiction (particularly the places you might stick needles) and violence (you will certainly think twice before insulting a waitress).
Essential reading
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 22 Aug 1996
By A Customer
This review is from: Trainspotting (Paperback)
As a reader currently accustomed to standard paperback
bestseller crap "Trainspotting" was a welcome change. I
admit, I didn''t discover this book in its obscurity but
was influenced to read it after the great media-hype
surrounding the film, but I still feel gratitude I read the
book before watching the movie. This book, unlike other
mind-numbing American novels later turned into films,
intrigues the reader and teases his thoughts and his
perception of border lines and what is acceptable and
unacceptable. The novel never urges the reader to try any
drug but rather shows the real side of drug use, the ups
and downs of mainly Heroine and alchohol, in a funny and
provokingly interesting way. With the use of intricate
scottish slang Welsh manages to expose the dark realities of
hopeless junkie lives and bring out the humor of those empty
lives, while still incorpporating hilarious sex scenes, harsh
violence and drug use. A definate must-read, this book will
hopefully open the minds of its readers, if there is any hope
in the youth of this great world of ours!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the film, 7 Aug 2004
This review is from: Trainspotting (Paperback)
If you've read any other of Irvine Welsh's books and are looking for another hit of his hard-edge and often funny writing style then go to the source, the original, train spotting. Seeing the film will not spoil your experience nor will any comparisons stop you flying through the book, it's simply the most addictive book i've read to date. The characters are, as allways, jumping straight out from the page and are well pictured giving a good dynamic between them. I've never enjoyed a book more and thoroughly recommend the book to anyone who fancies a good read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why trainspotting is as relevant today, 29 Sep 2010
This review is from: Trainspotting (Paperback)
The dust has long settled since Irvine Welsh's rollercoaster debut clattered off the printing presses. There has been a play, TV dramatizations, a film, numerous reprints. Welsh has spent his time as a bestselling author attempting to emulate his initial success, with - perhaps understandably - less than satisfying results.

But I thought 2010, the 20th anniversary of the year of Heart of Midlothian FC's abortive attempt to takeover city rivals, Welsh's beloved Hibernian, might be a good point for a reappraisal.

Trainspotting is a triumph, dealing with issues affecting the underclass of Scotland's capital. In the 1980s, when the red-tops christened Edinburgh the 'AIDS capital of Europe', there was suffering, broken families, drug dealers making a fortune from addiction and early death. Trainspotting gives all these characters a voice, an east coast variant to James Kelman's Glasgow-slanted fiction. It never seeks to preach or condemn. Just lift the stone. Crucially, it also entertains.

As an Edinburgh native the stage adaptation stuck to the novel's narrative and complicated issues to a far more rewarding extent than the subsequent Hollywood makeover. (Although when I saw it performed at Edinburgh's Traverse, a large portion of the traditional theatre-going audience were laughing at rather than with the hilarious 'schemies'). Plus Ewen Bremner, Spud in the film, was the original Renton, and far more convincing than pin-up MacGregor. Boyle's film viewed seedy Edinburgh through pop culture-tinted lenses, using dynamic music as diverse as Iggy and Underworld. Excellent entertainment but never as poignant as the original prose.

Trainspotting presents a view of the struggle of ordinary people that is often harrowing but utterly relevant. The shooting galleries may be gone, Granton's 'West Beirut' flats demolished, but the recent banking crisis has highlighted the remaining gulf between the haves and the never will haves in modern Britain.

Another excellent alternative view of Scotland's capital is available in BrainBomb by Mark Fleming, a rollercoaster ride down a different track (mental breakdown rather than drug abuse), set against a frenetic soundtrack of local 70s bands like The Freeze and The Scars. Recommended. BrainBomb: A Lurid Story of Bi-Polar Illness
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More addictive than drugs themselves, 7 Aug 2006
This review is from: Trainspotting (Paperback)
I have to start by saying, i am not a good reader of fiction. I read reviews of books often, and even works which receive rave praise often fail to engross or even entertain me once i have gone out and bought a copy. Rarely do i come across a book which captivates me in the manner trainspotting did.

What makes this book so special for me is the way Welsh captures a culture so brilliantly. The scottish drug scene is one he writes about with knowledge and empathy. Unlike lesser authors, who seem to write about things they clearly know nothing about, Welsh takes us on a brillaint and exciting trickle through the seedy yet vivid world of drugs, punk and sex in the early 90's. His work doesn't revolve around cliched plot twists or neat metaphors to represent things, he merely tells things as they are in a raw and witty writing style that amounts to a huge breath of fresh air.

Others may disagree, but i wouldn't say the book follows a set plot. It is a compilation of short and absorbing passages which document the lives of various characters. The book does progress in a way, with addicts such as Mark Renton and Spud managing to kick their addictions, only to slip back into them towards the end of the book. However, this free flowing structure allows Welsh to explore his subject matter and issues in an unfettered way, that isn't bound by the rigours of a plot like so many other insipid works of "mainstream" fiction.

It is indeed the characters that make most books, and this work is no exception. The selection of characters in this book is diverse and wide, ranging from psycopaths such as Francis Begbie, to, as mentioned, junkies such as Renton and Spud, and even cameo appearances are made from characters such as David Mitchell- an unfortunate contractor of HIV. All the characters are brimming with individuality and represent a different aspect of the world Welsh writes about. Renton seems at face value to be a "jack the lad" type, who has fallen into the wrong company. However, as the book drives on and we learn of such issues as the sibling rivalry between him and his older brother Billy, as well as the death of his younger, severly disabled brother, who made him the subject of ridicule at school, we realise that he is a much more complicated case. One side of this character in particular which made me think was the way in which, in the stages of the book where he is clean, he presents an articulate and well argued case for a life with heroin that seems scarily attractive.

Those of you who have seen the film may be put off by the more depressing side of this subject matter. However, i can assure you that, while that poignance still exists in the book, it only complements the pragmatic, laugh-out-loud humour the book is brimming with. The fact that Welsh can make light out of such a taboo subject is a true indication of just how skilled a writer he is.

All in all, this book was a superb read, by a country mile the best book i have ever read. It will change the way you perceive things for the better, and the characters will feel like old friends just begging you to open the book and revisit it. Perhaps the one foible some would have with the book is the Scottish Dialect it is written in. However, i feel that use of phonetic language makes the characters all the more believable and deep. I don't think the book would be the same if standard English was used.

You're living under a rock if you haven't read this book, if you do nothing else, go out and buy a copy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Completely misses the points, 1 Mar 2014
By 
P Benson "Englishbob" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Trainspotting (Kindle Edition)
As a train devotee and regular visitor to the platforms up and down the length of the land I refute how this is representative of the 27th largest (and fastest growing) hobby in the UK today. I stuck with the Gaelic text until the end of the line in the hope of some mention of the Blue Rocket or a passage on Thermos Flasks and the photo v notepad evidencing factions that exist in our society today but it fails to stay on track and certainly does not reflect the high jinx and bawdy language of the members of Chapter 33 of the Crewe and Nantwich regional trainspotters club.
Note: we are now accepting applications for new memberships.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A case study in how to adapt a difficult book for the screen, 2 Aug 2004
By 
Lawrance M. Bernabo (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
There are two reasons to pick up John Hodge's screenplay for "Trainspotting," based on the novel by Irvine Welsh. The first is because you have trouble understand English spoken with strong Scottish brogues and you cannot figure out how to use closed captioning. Admittedly, this is the minor reason. The second and major reason is to appreciate how well Hodge transformed Welsh's novel into a solid screenplay. After all, the novel was a collection of loosely related short stories about several different characters that neither aspires to nor reaches a complete narrative form. Also, the key to the characters comes as much from their internal monologues as it does from anything they say or do. Of course the solution was to focus on one character and make him the "narrator" of the film. This becomes Mark Renton, the unrepentant drug abuser who does not seem to be as hell-bent on self-destruction as the rest of his mates.
This volume includes an introduction by Hodge, who explains how he came to be coerced into writing the screenplay. The screenplay is indeed the screenplay, and not a transcript of the film, so there are plenty of changes in dialogue and editing if you actually do sit down and follow along while watching Danny Boyle's film. Notations tell you want scenes or bits of dialogue were cut from the film and there are plenty of black & white photographs of the various scenes (but just Ewen McGregor coming OUT of the toilet...). The Afterword consists of a brief interview with author Irvine Welsh, conducted during the penultimate week of the shooting of the film (Welsh was doing a cameo performance as the drug dealer Mikey Forrester). Welsh speaks candidly about the transformation of his novel into a film and how the drug scene in Scotland has changed since the book's original publication. However, for those who have actually tracked down and read the novel, reading the screenplay soon afterwards will give you a greater appreciation of how excellent a job Hodges did with this adaptation.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Addictive!, 17 Jan 2004
By 
Lucy Reynolds "Lucy" (West Midlands, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Trainspotting (Paperback)
As Renton, the main character, describes perfectly within the novel, this story is about several people who could have chosen to live the normal, everyday mortgage-and-two-kids type of life. Instead they chose not to choose life. They chose smack.
Without a doubt, addiction is the central theme of the book, and it is the linking point to all of the characters within it.
Welsh cleverly details how the addiction pulls them together as a group, causes their perception of the world to be completely different from the "clean, living" characters, and eventually the smack that they live for ends up being the wedge that drives them apart.
Obviously, it's not one for those of a sensitive nature... but it is a book that makes you feel like you just jumped into this surreal world.
I have read this book over and over again. It's truly worth reading.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deserves the praise, though I think it's going to date quick, 21 Mar 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Trainspotting (Paperback)
Trainspotting is the story of a group of 'friends' who seem to have grown up together in Leith. The novel's story is told using an episodic technique, with most of the main characters being allowed to narrate at least one episode. It reads as though it was written without one narrative vein (if you'll allow the pun) having been devised to hold the whole together, and some parts would definitely have benefitted from being edited/edited out. It is at times unnecessarily prurient (for example, the resteraunt scene: or, where an HIV victim exacts revenge on the man responsible for infecting him). Having said this, the novel is still an extraordinarily powerful one, with the looseness of the narrative mirroring exactly the disconnectedness of the characters' lives. It faces up to the paradox of narcotic use squarely - that of their bringing intense pleaseure, but being ultimately destructive. A 'must-read' and far superior to the other Irvinewerks I've read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book that depicts brilliant realism, 13 Oct 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Trainspotting (Paperback)
'Trainspotting' is a book that has suffered from becoming a sucessful film. Many readers will only come to the book after seeing the film itself and will therefore be forever comparing the book with the movie. However, as a book it screams comedy, realism and social comment. At first difficult to read, as it is written in Glaswegian dialect, it creates a real sense of being young in 1990s Britain, facing the prospect of lifelong unemployment and seeking escapism from reality through the use of drugs. 'Trainspotting' is brilliant in the way that it addresses social problems, creating some funny moments that are always somehow tinged with sadness and thus requiring the reader to use their minds and challenging them to face the realities of the situation. Welsh explore social attitudes and doesn't hold back in expressing any views about the wider cultural problems that face the youth of Britain today. I would recommend eveyone to read this book, to stick with the unusual writing style as it does get easier to follow, and to enjoy the book for what it is and to abstain fromn the temptation to constantly compare it with the film starring the gorgeous Ewan McGregor.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 219 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First
ARRAY(0xaec2da50)

This product

Trainspotting
Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh (Paperback - 5 Feb 1996)
6.79
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews