Probably the most famous passage from the book: “Whin yir oan junk, aw ye worry about is scorin. Oaf the gear, ye worry aboot loads ay things. Nae money, cannae git pished. Goat money, drinkin too much. Cannae git a burd, nae chance ay a ride. git a burd, too much hassle, canne breathe withoot her gitten oan yir case. Either that, or ye blow it, and feel aw guilty. Ye worry aboot bills, food bailiffs, these Jambo Nazi scum beatin us, aw the things that ye couldnae gie a fuck aboot whin yuv goat a real junk habit. Yuv just goat one thing tae worry aboot. The simplicity ay it aw. Ken whit ah mean? Rento stops to give his jaws another grind.”
I’ve read this book three times now. Once during high school, once during college, and once as an adult. Reading this book feels like going home. It makes me believe that really great books can be found anywhere.
In some ways, I feel the book is a product of the 80s, but I remember it as an essential part of the 90s. For some reason, the Renton’s mates seem like the most universal set of characters in the world. Everyone has one friend who is a lady-killer like Sick Boy, a good-hearted man like Spud, a stalwart like Tommy, and an absolute bastard like Begby. As for Mark, well, he is the dude most likely to be the one narrating the tale. I sensitive, never-do-weller who is too sensitive for his own good.
Who of us hasn’t had these problems; who of us hasn’t had friends like these; who of us hasn’t wanted an escape from the tedium of modern life?
I wonder how the book got published–not because it is a bad book, but because it is so uniquely good that you only realize how good it is by investing your time in reading it again and again (and learning the slang if you don’t know Scottish dialect). The book seems to be authentic because it doesn’t try too hard to be something it’s not.
Perhaps that’s the message for writers reading this book: be who you are as a writer, for good or ill, and hopefully it will all work out. Or, you can just give up writing and live a normal, happy, healthy life.
Whin yir off the writing, all you think about is writing. Oan the writing, ye worry aboot loads ay things. Nae money, cannae git an agent. Goat an agent, won’t return your calls. Cannae git a publisher, nae chance ay a making it. Git a publisher, too much hassle, canne breathe withoot them gitten oan yir case. Either that, or ye blow it, and feel aw guilty. Ye worry aboot bills these effete critics beatin us, aw the things that ye couldnaegie a fuck aboot whin yuv given up the writing.