A word of warning- Skagboys includes graphic depictions of drug taking and substance abuse. There are adult themes throughout, including violence, rape, molestation and death. It is not a book for people who are squeamish or easily triggered.
|just like to point out, the white power is flour, and the tablets are either vitamins or prescriptions meds.|
I've read a few of Irvine Welsh's novels and in my opinion Skagboys comes closest to equalling the brilliance of Trainspotting. The novel is energetic and raw, the speed of the narrative is fast-paced and restless, which perfectly mirrors the impulsive and reckless behaviour of the protagonists. Towards the end of the novels the tone becomes more introspective and considered, as Renton reflects on his addiction.
Irvine Welsh is very clever in the way he doesn't glorify substance abuse or offer simplified explanations or solutions for addiction. Skagboys manages to be politicised (Welsh is clearly no fan of Thatcher) without being sanctimonious.
SkagBoys is written in phonetic Scots, which may take some getting used to. Personally, I think it is effective and an integral part of the novels authenticity. There a section that comes quite late in the book where Renton discusses why he is writing his rehab diary in phonetic Scots, although I think Irvine Welsh is being tongue-in-cheek, I think he does raise valid point about dialect representation in literature.
For a novel that deals with such a grim subject, there is also a lot of warmth and humour. Although the friendship between Renton, Sick Boy and Spud is toxic as they act as enablers for each others drug use, they also have camaraderie and in-jokes. I'm sure people who were young in the 80's will relate to the riffs on music, clubbing and making cassette mix-tapes. Even the names of the characters, 'Second Prize', 'Spud', are of the era, most of my parent's school friends seems to have incomprehensible nicknames.