Author: Irvine Welsh
Page Count/Review Word Count: 566
Irvine Welsh is at his best in Glue – it’s a book about friendships, and how the glue that holds us all together is affected by the passage of time, and our surroundings, and all sorts of external factors including drug addiction and disappointment, two of Welsh’s big themes that seem to follow him from book to book.
The good thing about Glue is that Welsh gets a lot of time to play with his characters and to put them into different situations, to see how they react. Even after watching the film of Trainspotting, as an example, I still found it hard to differentiate between the different characters – here, in Glue, they’re so well-defined that I still remember them, as well as the ending, which is unfortunate. I would’ve liked to have re-read it, but I guess I’ll save that for later, when I’ve read the rest of Welsh’s ouevre. He certainly has a lot of stuff out there – I’d guess I’ve read around half of it, and that’s still at least half a dozen books.
In this novel, we follow a group of friends from their time together as kids in the 70s to the turn of the millenium, when a lot of secrets start coming to light. Of course, I can’t talk about what those secrets are without spoiling the end of the book, but the interesting thing here is that the twists start kicking in about two thirds of the way through the novel, and then just don’t let up until you’ve turned the final page. In many ways, that’s why I’ve given this a nine – not many books hit you in the face, but this is one of them.
For me, one of the interesting things was that my generation came a couple of generations after the one that’s featured here, and whilst I did grow up in a working class town, it wasn’t as bleak as the childhood that Welsh depicts. That said, I can recognise some of the personality types, and I can also see some of the characters from this novel in some of the famous people that dominated the era, although I’m not going to mention any names – that’s for you to find out.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Irvine Welsh, and it’s hard to pick a single book to hold up above the others, and so I’m not going to try to. That said, I think Glue is as good as any of his other books, if not better – I’d recommend it accordingly. Really, most people have already read one of Irvine Welsh’s books by the time that they pick up a copy of Glue, although it’s also not a bad book to start with.
I guess, if I had to, I’d recommend Filth or Maribou Stork Nightmares, because those are my two favourite Irvine Welsh novels. But it’s pretty close, and to be honest, most people discover his work through Trainspotting – a bit like Chuck Palahniuk, with Fight Club. You should probably read Trainspotting first because it’s the book that he’s associated with – after that, think about picking up a copy of Glue. Or do what I do, and stock up on Irvine Welsh books whenever you come across them in charity shops – it’s cheaper.