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Marabou Stork Nightmares

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  6,919 ratings  ·  242 reviews
From dust jacket:

Roy Strang's real life makes his worst nightmares look like vacations. In a hospital room in Edinburgh Roy Strang lies in a coma--which doesn't save him from reliving the sordid developments that brought him to this state. He seems at times to be engaged in a strange quest in a surrealist Africa to eradicate the evil predator-scavenger bird the marabou st
Paperback, New Edition, 264 pages
Published 2004 by Vintage (first published 1995)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
Paul Bryant
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.
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
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
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
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
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
Martin Boyle
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
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.
Carlos 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
Still think this is his best book.
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
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
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'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
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
Michael Munkvold
I am a sucker for antiheroes - protagonists who are flawed, dysfunctional or even evil. "Bad people" are not as removed from the rest of us as we like to think; they seek the same things we do, just without a moral compass, and it's fascinating to read about a warped character going through the same journey as the rest of us through their own skewed lens. Irvine Welsh is in the company of Dostoevsky and Patricia Highsmith when it comes to creating reprehensible characters that we like and care a ...more
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Marabou Stork Nightmares by Scottish writer Irvine Welsh is the last and, probably, one of the most remarkable and powerful books I have ever read. I will admit that I had mixed feelings about it while reading – I just could not make my mind whether I love it or hate it. Several times I was tempted to leave the book in the nearest coffee shop, charity shop, a train station or an airport – anywhere, just to get rid of it and that nasty feeling, which Marabou Stork Nightmares gave me. Extremely li ...more
Nov 24, 2008 Tyler rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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.
It’s about a coma patient who calls everyone a cunt as he’s chasing a big stork through South Africa.
Jayne Charles
Possibly one of my favourite ever book titles, and truly nightmarish too. Narrated by a man in a coma, it starts out as a trip through South Africa on the trail of the eponymous stork, but it quickly becomes clear that this is nothing more than an imaginary smokescreen to obscure the real story of squalid violence that led to him being in a coma in the first place. In this regard you get the picture quite quickly, but it's not until the end that the full picture emerges, and as one might expect ...more
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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.” 18 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…