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Askew Review 15

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by Irvine Welsh. Fiction, 2002. 484 Pages.  Jonathan Cape/Random House Publishing-         
“It’s a load ay fuckin shite n it’s gittin oan ma tits so shut the fuck up or yi’ll git yir fuckin mooths burst.”- Renton quoting Sick Boy quoting Begbie.
    The other night I was drunkenly rambling on about the fact that I think the only celebrity I’d be even remotely excited to meet would be Mr. Irvine Fucking Welsh.  Even sober, as I sort of am now, I think that’s still a true statement.  And while I haven’t actually had the privilege of meeting ol’ Irvine, I did get to hear him read a few excerpts from this book at a reading in Brookline (MA) yesterday.  It was cool as hell.  Life is good sometimes.
    Porno is primarily about where the main characters from Trainspotting are ten years later, and I absolutely love it.  As an added bonus, you also catch up with some of the characters from Welsh’s other books, including the inimitable “Juice” Terry Lawson from Glue.  Each chapter is told from a different person’s point of view, and they all weave together wonderfully.  You get to hear the very distinctive voices of Trainspotting’s Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson (even more self-centered and evil than ever), Frank Begbie (my favorite character in this fucker- he’s both hilarious and scary, and he’s way over-the-top and completely out of control after getting out of jail for a manslaughter conviction that should have been a murder rap), Danny “Spud” Murphy (still the same loveable, incredibly nice, drug-addled fuck-up but with a wife and kid this go-round), Mark Renton (older, wiser, more physically fit yet still just as likeable) and a new character, Nikki Fuller Smith (gorgeous, self-centered British student studying in Scotland who becomes a porn actress in her desire to live life to the fullest).
     There’s all kindsa stuff happening here, but the story basically centers on Sick Boy’s return home to Scotland and his go at being a publican and a porn director/producer.  He has a ton of duplicitous shit going on, but his main focus- aside from his self-promoting porn vehicle and his increasingly voracious appetite for cocaine- is his attempt to find and then pay Renton back for the rip-off he pulled in Trainspotting.  With Begbie’s release from prison, the stakes only get higher, and it’s really fun reading along as things roar to a head.  And oh, yeah- as the book’s title so subtly implies, there’s also a helluva lot of hardcore sex going on throughout. 
     For those who haven’t read any of Welsh’s earlier books, the Scottish vernacular may be a bit hard to understand at first (especially Spud and Begbie’s chapters), but eventually you’ll get it.  And for those who are self-conscious, you may want to read this book in private.  It has a big red cover with the word PORNO emblazoned at the top, along with a shot of a blow-up doll below it, and it’ll show your co-workers that you’re really the sexual pre-vert that they think you are as you devour it during your all-too-short lunch break.  Nevertheless, you should read Porno because it’s the best motherfuckin’ book that’s come out so far in 2002. –Ben Hunter



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