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  • Glue
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 8 June 2017
Excellent. Gritty, well-paced and gripping.
A story of old friends growing up through the 80s and 90s. As an old raver it brought back many a nostalgic reminiscing.
Written in Irvine Welsh's usual Scottish vernacular, you can hear their voices in your head.
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on 18 May 2017
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VINE VOICEon 28 July 2007
Many suggest that Trainspotting was Irvine Welsh's best book. I agree that the film is peerless, but I don't think it is his best book, mostly because it is quite nihilistic and despairing. This book, on the other hand has a superb and spiritually uplifting ending, and shows the struggle of 4 kids trying to get out of the 'scheme' (Edinburgh's slums).

For the first time in Welsh's books, it uses multiple narrators and also extends their story over a long enough period of time to see far more charactor detail than was previously possible. Unlike Trainspotting, it covers a variety of different charactors and sees them to their conclusion. The result is a powerful book that has understandable charactors (rather than demagogues).

The book starts off with the charactor 'Juice' Terry making 'love' to two women in a grotty Edinburgh flat. It also shows us Billy 'Business' Birrell', who is an amateur boxer, along with Carl 'NSign' Ewart, who becomes a DJ. In addition there is the sad charactor of Andrew 'Gally' Galloway, who is like a cross between 'spud' and Bruce Robertson out of Filth (i.e. Unlucky).

I won't spoil the plot, but the four of them go through a semi- typical scheme upbringing (from the 1970's to modern times) where they discover their talents or waste them respectively. It all ends with them in their mid 30's reflecting on the events of their life and philosophising on the way things are in Edinburgh.

The book is rich in dialogue and insight, and is compelling to the very end. If I had the money, I would make a film of it, but I fear I could never do it justice!
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on 1 May 2002
Just like Oasis, Welsh shot into the public consciousness with a staggering debut ("Trainspotting") and has spent the rest of his career trying, and failing, to match it. 1999's "Filth" came pretty close, but the tapeworm sub-plot showed that Welsh still hadn't got over his penchant for playing literary games instead of doing what he does best, i.e. characterisation and dialogue.
With "Glue", however, he is definitely back to his best. On the face of it "Glue" sounds similar to "Trainspotting", following as it does a group of mates from the Edinburgh schemes as they get drunk, stoned and generally battered & bruised over a 4-decade period.
But the book is as much about Scotland, and Britain as a whole, as it is the central characters. Welsh's grasp of period is faultless, as he traces the social changes in British society from the 1970s through Thatcherism and the E generation to the present day, and the way his characters either ride the wave or are swept away.
The usual Welsh elements are all there - drugs, booze, sex, football, humour, swearing, politics - but for the first time there's a maturity here, a soul, a desire to place the characters and their activities into a sociopolitical context which can in some way explain their lifestyle choices.
Ultimately, it's a book about friendship and loyalty, and how these qualities somehow manage to endure even when the world keeps on kicking you in the teeth. A funny, gripping, and for the first time touching Welsh novel.
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on 2 June 2017
Great Book...I couldn't put it down.
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on 28 October 2001
The strength of this book is the vivid, believable, acutely observed characters. The story meanders through the lives of four "schemies" as they grow up together and grow apart in adulthood. A great book about ordinary life. In 100 years' time this will still be read, at least by literature students.
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on 21 November 2003
OK so there is violence, sex, violent sex, drink, drugs and swearing. But under it or perhaps throught it there is a beautiful story about how people stick together, look out for each other and care about each other. If you've never read Irvine Welsh before this would be a good place to start.
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on 9 July 2002
This was a brilliant book i thought. I am a fan of books that follow groups of mates through their lives, and this definately did not disappoint. Lots of funny moments, but also i found some parts very moving - particularly the end. I was on a train reading it at the time and hoped no-one saw me visibly moved by the ending! 3/4 of the way through i thought it lost it's way slightly when introducing the new female characters, but this did not prevent me from loving this book. A real recommend.
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on 7 April 2012
I could talk about this novel all day long. It is quite simply, my favourite book of all time. Who knew Irvine Welsh had a masterpiec like this in him. Well done sir.
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on 27 June 2016
Irvine Welsh is at his best in Glue – it’s a book about friendships, and how the glue that holds us all together is affected by the passage of time, and our surroundings, and all sorts of external factors including drug addiction and disappointment, two of Welsh’s big themes that seem to follow him from book to book.

The good thing about Glue is that Welsh gets a lot of time to play with his characters and to put them into different situations, to see how they react. Even after watching the film of Trainspotting, as an example, I still found it hard to differentiate between the different characters – here, in Glue, they’re so well-defined that I still remember them, as well as the ending, which is unfortunate. I would’ve liked to have re-read it, but I guess I’ll save that for later, when I’ve read the rest of Welsh’s ouevre. He certainly has a lot of stuff out there – I’d guess I’ve read around half of it, and that’s still at least half a dozen books.

In this novel, we follow a group of friends from their time together as kids in the 70s to the turn of the millenium, when a lot of secrets start coming to light. Of course, I can’t talk about what those secrets are without spoiling the end of the book, but the interesting thing here is that the twists start kicking in about two thirds of the way through the novel, and then just don’t let up until you’ve turned the final page. In many ways, that’s why I’ve given this a nine – not many books hit you in the face, but this is one of them.

For me, one of the interesting things was that my generation came a couple of generations after the one that’s featured here, and whilst I did grow up in a working class town, it wasn’t as bleak as the childhood that Welsh depicts. That said, I can recognise some of the personality types, and I can also see some of the characters from this novel in some of the famous people that dominated the era, although I’m not going to mention any names – that’s for you to find out.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Irvine Welsh, and it’s hard to pick a single book to hold up above the others, and so I’m not going to try to. That said, I think Glue is as good as any of his other books, if not better – I’d recommend it accordingly. Really, most people have already read one of Irvine Welsh’s books by the time that they pick up a copy of Glue, although it’s also not a bad book to start with.

I guess, if I had to, I’d recommend Filth or Maribou Stork Nightmares, because those are my two favourite Irvine Welsh novels. But it’s pretty close, and to be honest, most people discover his work through Trainspotting – a bit like Chuck Palahniuk, with Fight Club. You should probably read Trainspotting first because it’s the book that he’s associated with – after that, think about picking up a copy of Glue. Or do what I do, and stock up on Irvine Welsh books whenever you come across them in charity shops – it’s cheaper.
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