This summer I read ‘Glue’ three times. I went through a breakup and travelled solo for a month, and this book was a companion. Although I’m Scottish, I’ve never read any books by Irvine Welsh and have only seen clips of ‘Trainspotting’. My first foray into Welsh didn’t disappoint, and instead left me adding his other novels to my Amazon shopping cart.
The book begins in the 1970’s and follows four Edinburgh scheme boys from their childhood to thirties, often with years being unaccounted for. Throughout there are elements of sex and violence, but for the most part this is a book about overcoming adversity and friendship. True to Welsh’s writing style, it’s pretty vulgar in areas but for me it just adds to the hilarity of the book.It is comically written by Welsh and although it may take a non-Scot slightly longer to decipher the colloquial language he is known for, it will not fail to make you laugh.
The layout of the book is somewhat scattered, jumping from the mindset of one character to another and speech only being acknowledged through italicised writing. It can be challenging to navigate, however I felt this made me not only pay close attention to what I was reading, but it made me more emotionally invested in the characters and what they had to say. We as readers are not only following their lives as they grow but that of their friends, families and neighbours, too. There is an element of familiarity with these characters and where I personally grew up that made me relate to the story line and made it all the more realistic and comical to me. Welsh describes the streets of Edinburgh in such a way that you feel you are walking them with the characters. The book is immersive, captivating and hilarious.
This is certainly a book you could read over again and pick up key pieces of information you would have missed first time around. Welsh is sure to leave small hints throughout the novel that help piece together the climax, which does not come til extremely late on. I completed the book feeling satisfied that the loose ends created throughout had been tied up.
My rating: 5/5
‘Glue’ has references to ‘Trainspotting’ but neither are necessary reads to understand the other. You can purchase ‘Glue’ on Amazon for £7.30 here.