by Irving Welsh

Trainspotting coverTrainspotting is something of an oddity. Not so much a traditional story per se as a collection of many collected shorts being told from many different viewpoints, each loosely connected through the characters’ uncontrollable vices. Flipping between points-of-view proved to be jarring from the get-go, at least until I got some familiarity with the characters; after that, it was interesting for each unique voice to witness things from different perspectives. Much in the same vein, the prose––written not how words were spelled, but, rather, how they sound in a thick, Scottish accent––was at first difficult to understand. Once you familiarized yourself with the slang, however, the dialogue truly came alive.

Elicitation of emotions tends to be something that elevates the stories I read, and Trainspotting is very capable of doing such a thing. Hilarious and chilling, raunchy and heartfelt, as much as I enjoyed specific moments in time, it very much felt like a jumbled mishmash throughout. Don’t get me wrong, Welsh has some astute insights into humanity throughout, but shallow passages that come across as shocking for the sake of shocking readers take away from the novel. I can’t help but feeling that a stronger focus could have turned Trainspotting into one of my favourites.

All this being said, I still enjoyed Trainspotting a great deal and extend a recommendation to anyone who can soldier past the dialogue that can be hard to understand. However, don’t be surprised if it can at times feel like a tangled, hollow mess, much like most of the characters.