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Marabou Stork Nightmares

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  8,251 Ratings  ·  282 Reviews
Irvine Welsh delivers another grisly yet enthralling insight into the mindset of the Scottish underclass in Marabou Stork Nightmares. This bleak tale is told by Roy Strang, a jug-eared underachiever who happens to be in a coma. As he flits in and out of reality in his hospital bed, we learn about the dysfunctional Strang family--Vet, his well-intentioned dinner-lady mother ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 9th 1995 by Jonathan Cape (first published 1995)
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Community Reviews

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MJ Nicholls
Dec 18, 2014 MJ Nicholls rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels, hoots-mon
Irvine Welsh was the literary hero among my generation of working-class Central Belt Scots for his graphic novels set in Edinburgh sink estates, riddled with sex, drugs, violence, and written in dextrously rendered phonetic dialect. I avoided reading Welsh, since a witless moron at my school rated Trainspotting his favourite book, and thereafter I associated him readers who would read his books to laugh at the banter of the characters, misunderstanding Welsh’s more sober intentions to expose the ...more
Jun 20, 2008 Ashley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I realize I haven't read Trainspotting, or even a great deal of Irvine Welsh's work, but let me go out on a limb here and say that this is my favorite.

The characters, especially the main character, are all deliciously real. Characteristic of Welsh, in my experience, is the atmosphere of darkness and desperation interjected with some even blacker humor. His ability to get me to sympathize with the main character, even after I'd read the end, was pretty remarkable. And not in the way you like Alex
Apr 01, 2007 Greg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
Stylistically this is Welsh's best work. Along with Glue it's the books of his that show him to be a really great writer who has much more up his sleeve than just drugs and violence (although he writes about these things so well, that it's not a bad thing when I say that). Why this book isn't one of those books people come in to the store looking for all the time is beyond me.
Paul Bryant
Sep 27, 2007 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Turns out that Irvine Welsh is not a one-trick pony, he's a one and a half trick pony. He wowed us all with his filthy funny tales of Scottish smackheads in Trainspotting, one of the ALL time black comedies, they don't come any blacker or funnier, and then it was kind of - follow that. So this one does involve similar young Scottish druggies, but it has a plot, which emerges in a similar manner to the spring in Monty Python's Spring Surprise from the Crunchy Frog sketch :

Health inspector: What's
Oct 16, 2008 Matt rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In many ways, this book was brilliant: the structure of flitting between his coma state, memories of his childhood, and an African hunting fantasy. Also, the way he physically structures words on the page really conveys the polyphonic stream of consciousness of a person in a coma. And the Scottish phonetic spellings are just plain fun. That said, this book disturbed me as no other book has done--and not in a good way. I genuinely feel traumatized by it. It is not so much the fact that violent th ...more
It’s about a coma patient who calls everyone a cunt as he’s chasing a big stork through South Africa.
Ciarán West
Aug 07, 2012 Ciarán West rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think my own books are probably mostly influenced by King and Koontz (in a non-horror way), but if ever I need to justify the dialect (in Boys of Summer) or the graphic nature (in Girl Afraid), I turn to Irvine or to Chuck. When people say 'Oh, readers will find it hard to understand what your characters are saying', I point at Trainspotting, Filth, or this one, and go 'NUH-HUH!'.

The people have a point, of course. Not everyone can read an Irvine Welsh book. But there is a sense of smug satis
Nov 11, 2010 Lindsay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Mind. Blown.

The angle of this story is incredible to begin with; a coma patient tell his story.

Sometimes, he (Roy) slipps close to the surface and hears conversations or music around him, a level below that he recounts actual memories from his life, and even deeper, he hunts the metaphorical stork with his friend and companion, footballer Sandy Jameison. He feels that he will be ready to resurface and wake up when he finally kills the stork, which he believes encompasses everything negative and
Nate D
Sep 22, 2007 Nate D rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Harsh, inventive, horrifying, and desperately sad. Lacks the glorious sprawl of Trainspotting, which directly preceded it, opting instead for what may be Welsh's most tightly-coiled plotting to date. And his greatest sense of conscience, his strongest turn as a social reformer. The ending, through an appropriate scrim of sensationalism, actually manages to be both heart-rending and insightful, in a manner that Welsh rarely manages.
May 05, 2012 Karl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Still think this is his best book.
Apr 17, 2007 Allan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book left me freaked out for weeks. It's told from the perspective of someone in a coma, drifting in and out of three levels of awareness: nearly aware of his real surroundings; remembering the events of his life that led him to be in this coma; and in a surreal fantasy African safari. Very well written, easy to follow despite the narrative tricks, and with a narrator that will draw you in somewhat against your will.
May 04, 2008 Jfed55 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was always drunk on stolen Vodka when I read this, so my appraisal would not necessarily be reliable....Or maybe it would be much more so than normal.
Ubik 2.0
Oct 20, 2012 Ubik 2.0 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Il cielo sopra Edinburgo

Nella lettura di (quasi) tutte le opere di Welsh mi era rimasto indietro, non so perchè (forse inconsciamente respinto dall'immagine poco accattivante del marabù in copertina) questo Tolleranza Zero. Grave lacuna! mi hanno ammonito gli amici anobiiani welshiani. E avevano ragione...

Si tratta infatti di uno dei migliori esempi di quell'inimitabile stile, cinico, crudele e violento, che negli anni 90 l'autore sapeva utilizzare con maestria direi molto superiore a quanto ci
Oct 19, 2010 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first time through this book I thought Irvine Welsh had completely reinvented himself. The beginning of the novel left me thinking that the entirety was going to be some deranged acid trip of whirring images and slurred sounds. It doesn't take long for Welsh to slip into his familiar role of Edinburgh scheme documentarian, a role of which he is the master.

The reader travels between Roy Strang's African dreamland and his memory of growing up in the toughest part of Edinburgh. Gradually, you re
Jun 24, 2008 Keri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Irvine Welsh is sometimes hard for me to read; his characters are the kind of people you know exist in the world, but you wish they didn't. There are no heroes (well, sometimes there's an antihero), and the protagonist is usually the character you come to hate the most. That being said, however, his books are always powerful, always disturbing, and always very well written. If you can't handle gratuitous violence, these are not the books for you. If you sometimes like a book that makes you want ...more
Dec 17, 2008 Jena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Possibly the most disturbing book I have ever read. After I finished the last page I felt like I had been run over by a truck.
Dane Cobain
Jun 13, 2016 Dane Cobain rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was probably my favourite of all of the Irvine Welsh books that I’ve read so far, although I do still have three or four to work through. And there’s a big twist at the end of it that I’m going to have to try to avoid spoiling, but it knocked me for six and left a lasting memory, so much so that whilst I haven’t re-read it yet, I want to.

It features Welsh’s inimitable writing style, as his work always does, but it also plays with elements like the layout of the book, and spacing, and i
Matt Algiers
Oct 29, 2009 Matt Algiers rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern
This time through, I think Irvine Welsh missed the target. Marabou Stork Nightmares is as well written as anything Mr. Welsh has yet done, but I truly failed to care about anything happening in this book. Welsh is a master craftsman with his words, but I think he was simply trying too hard for something distinct here.

His power with language is Welsh's strongest talent, and he uses it to the fullest in this book, but it fails to amaze. It is kinda cool, when he switches from fantasy to reality,
Martin Boyle
Apr 06, 2015 Martin Boyle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
This is a deeply unpleasant story. There is nothing to like about Roy Strang or his family, or his friends, or his world of mindless and casual violence.

But as Roy's story forces its way through the grotesque nightmares - themselves repulsive - based around a hatred of the marabou stork, you realise that the nightmares are a shield against the unpleasantness of his current predicament and his even worse and more frightening memories. Memories that led to desperation even in someone as callous as
Kalin Rheanne
Dec 29, 2016 Kalin Rheanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A masterpiece of style and characterization, Maribou Stork Nightmares is rife with poignant themes which are extremely relevant today, and perhaps will always be. Welsh has simultaneously written in a way that is blatant with its symbolism, but layered to make the text enjoyable and accessible to readers of all levels. The phonetic spelling of the Scottish accent sprinkled throughout is tough to discern at first but reading comes with ease after a chapter or two, so I highly recommend pushing th ...more
Jul 26, 2011 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Irvine Welsh's second novel is probably his best one, even better than Trainspotting. The story consists of Roy Strang, an oddball who's obsessed with birds, with the exception of Marabou Storks and invade his dreams.

As Roy is growing up he encounters the usual trials, bullying, going out with girls, doing drugs etc. However his problems start when he devises a brutal form of revenge on the snobbiest girl at school.

Early Welsh could do no wrong and with this book the scene shifts from the prese
Jul 29, 2015 JK rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a massive Irvine Welsh fan, and Marabou Stork Nightmares is one of my favourites. It's incredibly raw, brutal and disturbing, the characters are all horribly real people, all of whom you know in real life, but wish you didn't.

It's told from the perspective of Roy Strang - a man in a coma, and flits between his hallucinations of a life in South Africa hunting Marabou Storks, what's happening around him in hospital, and his memories of his life. It's wonderfully executed using a non-traditiona
Vicky Parkinson
Mar 02, 2013 Vicky Parkinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Its a difficult book to explain without giving the game away too much or making it sound a bit more superficial than I think it actually is.

So, we have an instantly dislikeable narrator who is telling his story from a hospital bed whilst in a coma. He's flitting between levels of consciousness, seemingly at will, to avoid what's going on around him but also to avoid the depths of his psyche which takes the form of an African adventure in search of the Marabou Stork. Yep. Not what I was expecting
Shawn Fahey
Aug 10, 2014 Shawn Fahey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solid book from a solid writer. If you're a fan of Welsh's work, you know what you're getting yourself into. If you like his books I will definitely say this is one of my favorites of his. If not, let me briefly explain. This is a dark and pretty disturbing book. It was hard to put down, I finished it in a few days. Entertaining plot, but dark nonetheless. The kind of book that gives you a funny feeling in the pit of your stomach while you're reading it. If you can handle disturbing writing (mur ...more
Carlos Panhoca Da silva
Já haviam me avisado que é o mais doentio dos livros dele. Foi o único dele que li e não tinha nenhum traço de humor só tragédia atrás de tragédia.

Estrutura do texto e diagramação impecáveis que seriam utilizadas novamente no Filth, narrativa não-linear misturando as três tramas (paciente em coma que não quer acordar contando sua história, o pesadelo que dá título ao livro e os acontecimentos às cegas no quarto que está internado); personagens detestáveis em rota de colisão num mundo onde não ex
Aaron Wilkinson
Dec 30, 2011 Aaron Wilkinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
More disturbing than "Crime" (never thought I'd be able to say that) and (by the end) more contemptible than "Filth". Roy Strang's in a coma and he doesn't want to come out of it which begs the question "what's the cunt hiding from?" It's hard getting a straight answer out of the soccer hooligan/system analyst/sociopath but he tells a good story. I'll be honest, the continuing image of the marabou stork eating the flamingo's head leads to a disgusting last two pages but I don't have any more dif ...more
Sep 04, 2008 Tyler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tyler by: Sarah Koh
Shelves: life-library
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeremy Andriano
Feb 27, 2008 Jeremy Andriano rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You will empathize with the narrator... and you will nearly vomit with disgust once he fully reveals himself. Thought Dostoyevsky pulled a neat trick with C&P? This is a modern revival that old question: Is redemption ALWAYS possible?
Danielle Folker
Aug 19, 2016 Danielle Folker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was insane, erratic, vulgar, confusing, and sad all at once.
May 25, 2017 Nynke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: double
one of the most ingenious books I've read so far. definitely my favorite Irvine Welsh one!
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Probably most famous for his gritty depiction of a gang of Scottish Heroin addicts, Trainspotting, Welsh focuses on the darker side of human nature and drug use. All of his novels are set in his native Scotland and filled with anti-heroes, small time crooks and hooligans. Welsh manages, however to imbue these characters with a sad humanity that makes them likable despite their obvious scumbaggerry ...more
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“It's only now that I realize that behaviour always has a context and precedents, it's what you do rather than what you are, although we often never recognise that context or understand what these precedents are.” 21 likes
“This is from "Marabou Stork Nightmares".
Bernard's Poem:

Did you see her on the telly the other day
good family entertainment the tabloids say

But when you're backstage
at your new faeces audition
you hear the same old shite of your own selfish volition

She was never a singer
a comic or a dancer
I cant say I was sad
when I found out she had cancer

Great Britain's earthy northern
comedy queen
takes the rand, understand
from the racist Boer regime

So now her cells are fucked
and thats just tough titty
I remember her act
that I caught back in Sun City

She went on and on about
'them from the trees
with different skull shapes
from the likes of you and me'

Her Neo-Nazi spell
it left me fucking numb
the Boers lapped it up with zeal
so did the British ex-pat scum

But what goes round
comes round they say
so welcome to another dose
of chemotherapy

And for my part
it's time to be upfront
so fuck off and die
you carcinogenic cunt.”
More quotes…