Friday, June 01, 2007


by Irvine Welsh

You may remember Irvine Welsh as the fella what wrote Trainspotting. If you've read that book or seen the movie then you'll find his novel Glue to be in familiar territory, following the lives and loves of four working class lads from Edinburgh as they get drunk in bars, start brawls at the footy and take shitloads of drugs. The story is divided into four chapters, each set roughly a decade apart, starting when the boys are five years old and just beginning school.

The style of the writing is a little obtuse. A large portion of it is written in phonetic Scottish dialect, which I thought was wonderful as I love Scottish accents, but others could easily find it irritating. Welsh also makes an inexplicable decision to use hyphens as opposed to quotation marks to indicate dialogue, which I thought to be needlessly obstructive to the ease of my reading.

However if that doesn't bother you then it's a right barry read, yeah? Despite the perpetual grimness of their economic and social situations, the characters display a joyous, irrepressible lust for life throughout, and it's endlessly entertaining reading about their dubious intimate lives and extra legal shenanigans.

While the central sections were enjoyable and highly addictive reading, I found the end a bit lacking. The story in the final section took an abrupt turn to the depressing and I found the redemptive note at the end unconvincing, primarily because I'd found quite a bit to dislike about a few of the main characters by the time we got there. Still I can appreciate that the flaws these characters have is part of the books message, which (to simplify) is a tribute to genuine blokey mateship. All of our friends are dicks sometimes but the friendship wouldn't be meaningful if it couldn't survive the occasional hiccup, be it having an argument over a girl, getting in a drunken punch up with one another or covering up a murder.

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