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Book #57: T2: Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh



Number of pages: 484

This was the first Irvine Welsh book I read, many years ago, when it had its original title of Porno; since then it has been re-titled to match the second Trainspotting film.

The book has most of the central characters from Trainspotting, with chapters told from alternating points of view. Initially it is all about Simon "Sick Boy" Williamson and another character, Nikki, who I don't think was in the films, but who makes friends with Diane. The first chapters have Sick Boy living in London, but he soon moves back to Edinburgh to take over a pub that he has inherited. Eventually though, other original characters - Renton, Spud and Begbie - show up. Begbie is more violent and obnoxious than in the first book.

The book is as difficult as ever because of the brogue in which it is written (particularly Spude and Begbie's chapters), although some of the characters get given similar titles on all parts that are from their viewpoint, so it is eary to guess who is speaking (Sick Boy's chapters all start with "Scam" and Renton's start with "Whores of Amsterdam").

Although the second movie was apparently based on this book, I was struck by how much the movie differed from the book.

[Spoilers for Trainspotting and T2 Trainspotting]

Although the book, like the film, starts with Renton having conned Sick Boy and Begbie out of the takings from their drug dealing expedition in London and Begbie in prison, many details near the start are changed.

First off, whereas the film had Begbie attacking the prison psychologist and escaping, the book has him finishing his prison sentence and being release. Also, while the film had Renton arriving back in Edinburgh and saving Spud (who was said to be still addicted to drugs) and being attacked by Sick Boy, the book has him living in Amsterdam where he has fled to. Eventually, Sick Boy tracks him down and stalks him to his house. Spud did not appear to be addicted to drugs in the book, and indeed drugs did not play a major role in the plot.

A lot of the film was also about Begbie trying to get revenge on Renton, and attempting to kill him, only to be subdued by the other characters and returned to the prison. In the book, the two characters hardly meet, although they come close about half way through. When they finally see each other (very close to the end), Begbie runs across the road to presumably attack Renton and is hit by a car, only waking from his coma at the end of the book.

Also, Renton ends up scamming Sick Boy once again and escaping; it's possible that the latest book in the series, Dead Man's Trousers will have picked up these plot threads and continued them. I was left wondering if I was supposed to even like Renton (despite him scamming his friend, he was described as being concerned for Begbie, after he ends up injured).



The book also had a plot involving Sick Boy shooting a pornographic movie, funded through an anti-drugs campaign; none of this was included in the movie, but it does result in some very graphic depictions of sex scenes.

Although the book was just as difficult to read as Trainspotting and Skagboys, I found the writing compelling. I loved how Irvine Welsh took specific scenes and told them from one character's point of view, and then in the very next chapter told them again but from another character's point of view. Another of my favourite bits involved Renton getting a taxi across town and being so paranoid about Begbie, "seeing" him three times through the window. It was a bit weird reading it and realising that they almost completely changed it for the film, but I was glad I gave it another chance.

Next book: Raven's Gate (Anthony Horowitz)
Tags: british, drama, erotica, movie-book
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