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Summary

Choose us. Choose life. Choose mortgage payments; choose washing machines; choose cars; choose sitting oan a couch watching mind-numbing and spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing f****n junk food intae yir mooth. Choose rotting away, pishing and shiteing yersel in a home, a total f***n embarrassment tae the selfish, f****d-up brats ye've produced. Choose life.

©1993 Irvine Welsh (P)2012 Random House AudioGo

What listeners say about Trainspotting

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Grim listening!

If you get to this novel via Danny Boyle film adaptation, with its fabulous soundtrack, memorable drugg-addled characters and grim humour, be prepared for something quite a bit darker in the literary source.

If you haven't come across it: this novel is about drug addicts in Edinburgh in the 1980s.
The structure of the book is very episodic because there is really no coherent story to their lives: they move from 'scoring' to 'scoring'; from prison to dodgy deal and back to prison, from kicking the habit to relapsing, from casual sexual encounter to the next, from pub brawl to skanky flat and back to the pub. So the loose structure of the book mirrors the aimless drifting that is the result of drug dependency. This episodic structure is composed of characters talking or thinking. It's not always immediately clear who is talking, but it really lends a grim authenticity to all the voices. One of the main benefits is also that there is no overriding, omniscient narrator who would pass moral judgment. That's neither necessary nor desirable: the characters bare their soul in such a matter-of-fact way that you feel you are overhearing conversations or monologues. The book has a larger and looser cast of characters, who are still memorable and have their nicknames, but they are more spread across the narrative rather than in control of it. No one is in control of anything. Above all, this is not a buddy-story. Friendship has no place in a life that is ruled by drugs. It's one of the main differences to the film, and it is perhaps the grimmest truth of the book, that the drug-infused fantasies and sensations which the characters crave always leave the possibilities of reality behind, whether it is the true rewards of friendship, family or love. This is a gradual revelation rather than some sort of moral stamp impressed upon the reader.

Be prepared for quite a lot of violence and physical detail about the reality of drug abuse; AIDS features, miscarriages, pimping, and quite a lot about bowel movements, and very grim deaths. The decay of 1980s Scotland is palpable without this being a social-problem novel: there's simply nothing to go 'clean' for. It makes the film look like a commercial mass-product that makes decline somehow cool; the book has a harsher edge.

If you are squeamish at all about four-letter-words liberally scattered across every sentence in lieu of more imaginative adjectives or nouns, you'll have to give this a miss. What makes this audiobook outstanding is that it really helps with the Scottish vernacular, pronunciation, drug slang, etc etc. I found it virtually impossible to read the book since it is often written in a phonetic transcription of this language - but having Tam Dean Burn make it come alive in his melodic voice really made a difference. You still have to focus quite hard to follow but you can follow and it's really engrossing. I came out of this quite pensive, and in need of something upbeat, but I am very glad that I listened. It is a fantastic achievement in terms of performance and a real tour de force of a book.

4 people found this helpful

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amazing!

great book, much better to listen than read, as a glaswiegan anyway! highly reccomend this book!

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I'd like to give it more than 5 stars...

What did you like most about Trainspotting?

Knowing only the (excellent) movie, I wouldn't have guessed that the book is even better.The choice of Tam Dean Burn as narrator, with his stroooong Scottish accent/inflections/pronunciations gives the book a further level of delight.

Who was your favorite character and why?

There's not one particular character to mention. The book is a collection of stories as seen from all the character's viewpoints.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

(no spoilers) The wrath of an HIV infected man. Terrifying!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Not really, some stories need to 'sink in' a bit before you can appreciated them at their full measure.

Any additional comments?

Again, without a Scottish narrator, i.e. read in simple English, the whole book's overall flavour would be so much weaker in my opinion. I'm really looking forward to other books narrated by Tam Dean Burn.

4 people found this helpful

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Brilliant...almost as good as Skagboys.

Any additional comments?

This is truly brilliant stuff, what a treat. Not for the squeamish, the politically correct, the faint-hearted or the easily offended and if you're are any of these, don't get this book. Thoroughly enjoyable and having listened to Skagboys first (the prequel - even though it was written afterwards), it was great to see the links between the two books. My only gripe is that the third book in the series, Porno, isn't available on here in an unabridged version, only abridged...having watched the Danny Boyle film too, the Psycho 'Begby' character portrayed by Robert Carlyle is absolutely perfect.

The book is funny, poignant and moves along at a great pace. The writing style is a series of first person perspectives told by the various characters in the book. I absolutely loved it and it left me wanting more when it ended.

The reader, Tam Dean Burn, is without doubt, the finest audio book reader I've heard to date. His interpretation of this book is truly outstanding and I have leaned more Edinburgh colloquialisms than I ever thought possible. I can not praise his reading highly enough.

Highly recommended.

6 people found this helpful

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A joy for all time.

A delightful realisation of the text beautifully and sensitively achieved by the narrator. A book to return to, evoking On the Road, Huckleberry Finn and much more besides.

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Breathtaking

A roller coast ride in the cess pit of drug culture Edinburgh.. This book will make you uncomfortable, yet laugh out loud.. Real characters, real problems and at times very dark..

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Brilliant

As good as I remembered reading all those years ago and well narrate by Tam Dean Burn!

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Bloody Brilliant!

Fantastic book which I binge-read (listened) over a weekend whilst doing housework, cooking, when I should have been sleeping...lol! Tam Dean Burn's narration is what brings this book to life. He gives each character their own unique voice and makes it all so real. I got far more out of this book being read to me than I would have done reading it myself. I have the next 2 on my wish list. Highly highly recommended.

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Brilliant narration

The narration really brought this book to life. Would definitely recommend, even if you've read the book already.

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Good book, an extension of skagboys

This book was good, but I would not recommend it without reading skagboys. The book draws heavily from references from that book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • A. Katz
  • 03-01-17

Trainspotting

I struggled with the written version of this 20 years ago and gave up at some point in the early chapters. The phonetic spellings were too distracting and I couldn't get into it. With the new movie coming out, I tried again, and once again it didn't work for me.

But as spoken Scots accents are so musical to me, when the lightbulb went off in my head to look for the audiobook, well, it was a no-brainer.

The reader/narrator did a wonderful job bringing the book to life.

The book itself is so much more than the movie (not to take anything away from the movie, though), with emotional kicks to the gut when least expected, and the connection with the characters is on another level entirely.

For anyone who had a hard time reading the book, I strongly recommend trying the audiobook version. Very much worth it.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Flavius Krakdaddius
  • 18-12-12

Powerful, Profane and Profound

This is a marvelous novel and a wonderful audiobook. Tam Dean Burn manages to capture Welsh's multifaceted characters nicely, and easily navigates some tricky dialects.

As the book is written in dialect, it can be a challenging read. I first read the novel, which includes a glossary of terms, and was very helpful. Before long, I had absorbed the language. I might suggest at least looking at a copy of the book first to get a better idea of Welsh's use of language.

For those readers who make the effort, however, Trainspotting is well worth it. Less of a novel and more of a series of interrelated stories which combine to make a very satisfying whole.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Reid
  • 03-12-18

Impossible to read, easier to listen to

I checked this book out in college and couldn’t figure out how to read it because of the dialogue... listening makes it way easier, and you get sort of used to it over time and start to understand more. It’s a good story, but for my American ears, sometimes hard to follow.

I have to stick to the movie on this one just because of the slang barrier.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mark Elgersma
  • 06-08-18

A Disgusting Masterpiece

This is not for the faint of heart. There's human excrement and fluids alike, and intravenous injection pretty consistently.

But Holy COW is this a great book. It's heartbreaking and touching while still keeping loyal to the gritty reality it portrays. This book has reached into my top 3 or 4.

Also, the audiobook is a savior. I've always struggled through the physical copy because of the dialect, but this makes it not only understandable, but powerful. It feels incredibly real.

Highly, HIGHLY, recommend.

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  • redmond
  • 13-01-15

Fantastic listen.

I'm a sucker for Scots. I could listen to it all day. The story is great and I now feel a need to revisit the movie.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 29-06-18

Brilliant

It's just as good as I thought, if not better. Irvine is a genius. I don't really know what else to say. I'm kind of at a loss for words.

1 person found this helpful

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  • damian
  • 09-09-21

Classic

Trainspotting, along with most of Irvine Welsh’s catalog, is a visceral experience in both writing and audiobook.

Tam Dean Burn provides, at minimum, a riveting performance that sees him effortlessly maneuver a multitude of raw Scots and British English dialects—both Male and Female—with explosive bursts of passion that make the experience feel completely genuine.

The book presents a very unique style of presentation and prose which characterizes most of Welsh’s work. The chronology is mostly ambiguous due to the presence of some chapters existing originally as short stories and the lack of real dates outside of it being known to be the close to the early 90s. This creates a feeing of existing in real-time without the preconception of period based specificity and allows the listener to feel closer to the characters and their stories.

For listeners who have a difficult time understanding the vernacular of the different dialects spoken, it may help to read along if you also have the book. The book offers glossary as well which can aid in familiarizing yourself with the variety of jargon and slang. You can also adjust the playback speed to less than 1.0x, with 0.8x providing the best comprehensibility without sounding artificial.

I have listened to Trainspotting well over 30 times and read a physical copy at least as many times and still learn new things about Welsh’s writing and this unique piece of post-modern art.

If you enjoyed this then the prequel Skagboys will be even better at double the length with more interesting character development of a Mr. Mark Renton and Young Simon David Williamson.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 30-08-21

hard to understand at times.

good book overall just hard to understand at points. thick accents and sentences make it hard to understand.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Scot D Blair
  • 11-08-21

fantastic

better than the movie. this is a fabulous dark comedy. that will have you horrified and gutters laughing

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  • Phill
  • 10-08-21

Jumbled and crazy in the best way possible.

The accent is H E A V Y.
The vignette style is very well done and I feel like i got a sense of these people and their hometown.
Not a single character can be called a "good person" but they are people... and are very relatable.I feel like I just got to spend actual time with these people and that is the best compliment I can give this audiobook.