The Last Book I Loved: Skagboys
Being a lover of charity shops, bargain basements, scruffy, slightly dusty secondhand bookshops, and long-forgotten boxes in attics, it’s a rare occurrence for me to buy a brand new, hot-off-the-press, full-price book. Frankly the idea gives me mild heart palpitations, perpetual tightwad that I am. But I’ve been one of the many who fall somewhere between an admirer and full-on obsessive about Irvine Welsh for a very long time, and when Skagboys was released in the summer of 2012, it was all I could do not to camp outside Waterstones the night before it went on sale — not hardly because of its strangely enticing advertising campaign.
Even those who wouldn’t count themselves among Welsh’s enthusiasts have come to know his signature mix of gritty realism with charming and yet wholly terrible characters through film adaptations of his work that have been made over the years. Ewan McGregor’s portrayal of Mark “Rent Boy” Renton won over those who couldn’t be bothered to decipher Welsh’s lavish use of Scottish slang, and a worldwide brand based on Renton’s “Choose Life” speech was born. Porno,the sequel, was very good (in my opinion arguably better than its predecessor) but failed to enter the public consciousness quite so effortlessly. And although I had high hopes, I could never have predicted how much I would enjoy the prequel to the Heroin Chic trilogy: Skagboys.