Jason's Reviews > Porno

Porno by Irvine Welsh
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's review
May 31, 2011

it was amazing
Read in February, 2003

Some of Irv's best work!

This is not some sleazy account of graphic fornication as the title would suggest (in fact, the bits about sex are actually quite funny and sometimes disturbing, but never overly or disgustingly graphic).

What this book is, however, is a wild and unpredictable romp starring the cast of Trainspotting (Welsh's best book) plus a few more familiar Edinburgh eccentrics.

There's no point trying to describe the plot (why ruin the fun?) but suffice to say that each character's hopes, strengths, dreams, failures, intricacies and personal shortcomings are on display throughout, and Welsh's vivid depiction of desperate scams is always on target.

Adjusting from proper English to Welsh's Scottish dialect takes some getting used to (and the Scottish to English dictionary found in the paperback edition of Trainspotting would probably help newcomers plenty), but it enhances the story and the characters at every turn. And throughout, Welsh adroitly keeps the readers' attention no matter the situation the characters are thrust into.

While Trainspotting is Welsh's crown jewel, the one aspect where Porno supercedes it is in exploring different emotions from different characters. Documenting the depravity of the heroin lifestyle was interesting in Trainspotting, but all the primary characters were more or less following the same path so there wasn't much territory to explore. Here, each character is mired in a different headspace, some (Sick Boy, Begbie) happy to stay there and others (Spud, Nikki) looking for a change. The diversity of the characters' behavior and their reactions to certain situations is as enticing as those situations they fall into.

I'd say this is closer to a 4.5, but I'll round it up if only because re-capturing the stroke of genius of an earlier work in a sequel is so difficult. In Porno, Welsh does it with aplomb.
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