Trainspotting is a captivating story of the random events that occur during a critical time in a group of Scottish junkies’ lives.  Irvine Welsh illustrates the confusion, anger, and turmoil many drug addicts are subjected to and what happens once they try to quit.

The story is centered around Mark Renton, an ordinary twenty-two-year-old who was raised by a loving mother and father.  He has two brothers: one was catatonic and the other was an overachiever.

Through court-mandated therapy, he was told he envied his parents and resented his older brother. This was what contributed to Rents (what his friends call him) starting to use drugs.

Bit by bit the reader is introduced to Rents’ friends, cousins, friends of friends, parents, friends’ parents, the list goes on. Anyone with relevance to the life of Mark Renton, the reader meets sooner or later. 

Everyone in Rents’ life is messed up or gets that way somehow. His friend Begbie, for example, is an unhappy little man. He feels he has to make himself seem tough by surrounding himself with ³friends² who do nothing but boost his ego by letting Begbie put them down.

Aside from being on and off drugs, his good friend Danny Murphy, or Spud (as everyone calls him) is a habitual thief. His friend Simone is nicknamed Sick Boy for good reasons. When he is high he hears voices in his head willing him to do evil things. He likes to shoot dogs as their masters are taking them for a walk, and he enjoys using women for nothing but s*x.. Rents’ date on occasion, Hazel, was abused by her father when she was young, and she chooses to shoot up to solve her problems.

Rab McLaughlin, or Second Prize, drinks himself into oblivion every chance he gets. Davie, a cousin of Renton’s has recently become HIV positive from a girl who was raped by a psychopath. Davie chooses to take revenge on him by pretending to kill the only thing he ever loved, an illegitimate child the psycho fathered but is no longer allowed to see.

Tommy, Davie’s and Rent’s friend, was the only one of the group who was completely normal. He even had a beautiful girlfriend that made him the envy of many of his friends. But when the two of them broke up, he became the most wasted on drugs of the whole lot.

Throughout the story Rents is on a rollercoaster of highs and lows; trying to kick his habit and being so wasted he doesn’t care about anyone or anything

There is no intricate plot to this story; just small bits and pieces that give the reader insights into each character’s life. There are amusing anecdotes and deep thoughts to contemplate all on one page.

The author does a great job conveying his feelings, through the characters, to the reader.  It takes a while to adjust to the dialect the story is written in.

Also, in some parts, it is hard to know who is speaking as almost every chapter is written in the first person, with different characters speaking to the reader.

The complex plot is that there is no plot, the meaningful theme is that there is no theme; it is just one boy’s struggles with himself, the people around him, and a hard, cruel world.

author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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