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Marabou Stork Nightmares

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  6,461 ratings  ·  228 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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MJ Nicholls
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
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
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.
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
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
Nate D
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.
Ciarán West
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
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
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
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
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.
Matt Algiers
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,
Vicky Parkinson
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
Ubik 2.0
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
Aaron Wilkinson
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
I toyed with giving this book both 3 stars and 5 so in the end plumped with the average of 4! In favour of the lower mark is the fact that when set against Welsh's other works (and I am a massive fan of his), there is a lot that is seemingly repetitive. However, I had to remember that this was actually his second novel and so the fact that I have read his books out of order is more responsible for this sense of de ja vu than the work itself. I was also minded to give the lower mark when the book ...more
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Nov 24, 2008 Tyler rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tyler by: Sarah Koh
Shelves: life-library
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Jeremy Andriano
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?
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.
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.
Disturbingly good read. In depth look at life growing up in Scotland with a mess of a family and the effect this can have on you. The imagery welsh musters up is so vivid it feels as though your right there in the room witnessing the atrocities happening. It's funny as hell in parts, sad as hell in parts and disgusting as hell in parts (in a hell funny way). I put off reading this for a while as his writing style at first is extremely hard to grasp didnae ya ken oan wit aye mean. I loved the end ...more
Shawn Fahey
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
Still think this is his best book.
Irvine Welsh has some bollocks. "Marabou Stork Nightmares" was published less than two years after his hit novel "Trainspotting." Most authors would choose to follow up with a similar yoke. Certainly the publishing company suggested it. Not Welsh.

"Marabou Stork Nightmares" is at once a playground for inventive language and format, a bizarre travelogue and a transgressive plot that would make Chuck Palahniuk cover his eyes. (Vonnegut might cry)

Roy Strang is in a coma. How he got there isn't rev
This may have supplanted Trainspotting as my favourite of Welsh's novels. The narrator Roy Strang has been in a coma for two years and the plot centres around two different streams of consciousness - one comprises Strang's biography, the other a weird boys own adventure narrative about hunting the Marrabou Stork in Africa. Both narrative streams are intersected by people visiting Strang in hospital and conversing with him as a means of trying to rouse him from his coma, something he clearly does ...more
Francesca Garini
Tolleranza Zero è un libro più vicino come idea di base a Il Lercio rispetto al celeberrimo Trainspotting: la vicenda è narrata in prima persona da una sola voce protagonista, un uomo corrotto e problematico, mentre la storia si sviluppa su diversi livelli (qui il verme solitario che invade il corpo di Robbo è sostituito dalle fantasie di Roy Strang sulla caccia del terribile uccello marabù). Quello che manca, se non negli ultimissimi capitoli, è il fattore droga: tema costante in libri come Tra ...more
Vince Darcangelo

This review originally appeared in the BOULDER CAMERA

Thirteen horrifying reads for Halloween
by Vince Darcangelo
Posted: 10/24/2008 02:34:00 AM MDT

October is the time of year to indulge those horror cravings. As the leaves turn, and a haunting chill fills the evening air, there's nothing better than curling up with a good thriller, be it a psychological mystery or supernatural scare, a genre gore-fest or high-minded literary horror.

We've compiled 13 can't-mi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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
More about Irvine Welsh...
Trainspotting Filth Porno The Acid House Glue

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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.” 16 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…