Mired in the Brogue of “Skagboys”
Despite a fondness for the works of Irvine Welsh, I admittedly was slightly dreading my start of the recently released prequel to Trainspotting.
My wife pre-ordered Skagboys as a birthday gift to me. I am a big fan of the film version of Trainspotting, which has led to also following the careers of several of those involved in its making.
- Danny Boyle has become one of cinema’s premier directors, scoring an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire. I’m sure I was not the only person watching the Opening Ceremony from the London Olympic Games in anticipation of the Trainspotting-esque moment, not realizing until mid-point that the entire ceremony was a bit Trainspotting-y. There’s nothing on his resume I’ve watched and not thoroughly enjoyed.
- Jonny Lee Miller has been around long enough to be a bit of a household name, particularly now that he’s in the new major-network take on the Sherlock Holmes story.
- Ewan MacGregor is probably even more well-known, having worked in a good many major films including the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequels.
- Robert Carlyle is also a regular on American network TV, portraying Rumplestiltskin in (largely unwatchable) Once Upon a Time, but I still dig him. He’s also tackled Adolf Hitler and King James I! Pretty sure Begbie kicks all their arses, but…
- Ewen Bremner was a treat (for me, anyhow) in Black Hawk Down
- I admit that most of the reason I watched Nanny McPhee was because Kelly MacDonald was in it.
- My wife tells me that a doctor on Gray’s Anatomy is played by the same guy who was Tommy.
It might be said I have an unhealthy relationship with the film, though it led me to read Welsh’s book (and then books, plural) rather than to score some dope, so…healthy enough, eh?
Anyhow…trying to circle back to the point…the slight dread I experienced managed to survive an overwhelming adulation for the characters Welsh created and the world in which he has them muck about.
It’s just that the books are so incredibly difficult to read!
If you’ve read them, you likely nod your head in agreement.
If not, I’ll just say that ah dinnae ken what tae tell yae!
Actually, I DO know what to tell you, but I was just trying to illustrate the point, which is that the dialogue, both internal and ex-, is written in a highly stylized brogue. While it definitely adds, overall, to my enjoyment of and submersion into the world of the novels, it greatly slows my progress through it.
Generally, I will make my way through a 300-page novel in 4 to 6 days, depending on how many of those days include an hour-plus sitting on the bus between home and work. I opened Skagboys for the first time 11 days ago.
I’m on page 158.
In fairness, I spent four extra days I’d normally be going into the city instead working from home. Definitely had some impact. Still, I can actually feel myself reading slower than what I’m used to and it’s driving me crazy, especially as the “to read” pile expands rapidly as some favorite authors all are publishing new works (Zadie Smith, Michael Chabon, Justin Cronin, Victor LaValle, Junot Diaz, Chuck Wendig, etc.), not to mention it was already a bit of a bloaty list.
This should not, however, register as a complaint. It really is part of what I love about Welsh’s writing and why I am quick to return to this particularly story.
“Wir gaun doon thaire tae have a wee fuckin blether wi this Hong Kong Fuey cunt!”
I just wish I could pick up the dialect a bit more quickly. As of now, I still have to read the dialogue aloud to myself in my head to even hope to make sense of much of it.
Otherwise, it’s pretty interesting to watch these characters move through their pre-addiction lives knowing how it eventually runs for them. Because I declined a re-read of Trainspotting before starting Skagboys, my memories of the characters are probably closer to the film versions, which I’ve seen several times. Whatever the case, the characters all seem to be pretty much on-point right now, which makes me feel good about the book. I’m not sure whether there are any charges of “cashing-in” to be hurled at the appearance of the prequel, but I’m definitely getting a sense Welsh was more motivated by his feelings about the characters than by some cynical cash grab.
Now that I’m nice and irritated after watching baseball for the last few hours, I guess I’ll go wrestle a bit more with the brogue.