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Glue - Irvine Welsh
Description: Author: Irvine Welsh / Genre: Fiction / Glue, the story of 4 close friends growing up in Edinburgh, is a very funny, very realistic and very moving book.
My copy has a bright pink cover with a cracked egg on the front, but there are
This book begins by introducing us to the 4 main characters, Andrew Gallacher, Terry Lawson, Carl Ewart and Billy Birrell AKA Carl, 'Juice' Terry (so called because he works on a lorry selling juice), Billy and Gally. These boys have grown from children into young adults together in the poorer part of Edinburgh.
As they grow up, they discover the world of violence, sex, drugs and alcohol and football and the impact that these things have upon their generation in general and the schemes where they grew up.
I am not going to tell you any more of the plot because I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't read the book. As with other books by the same author, this book is written in dialect which may be hard for the reader to follow. Being Scottish, I can read it quite easily but have friends who found it a little harder for this reason. It does make the characters seem more real though, as you can practically hear the words being spoken.
The author is famed for his gritty and often brutal style of writing and this book is certainly no exception. It is raw and violent, describing scenes that may well make the sensitive reader quite uncomfortable. It is also darkly funny and has scenes that are oddly emotional or thought provoking.
I really enjoyed this book, it was funny, hard hitting and kept me hooked from start to finish. If you are an Irvine Welsh fan, you will love this, it is very typical of his work and up to the high standard that we have all come to expect.
If you haven't already read this, what are you waiting for?! Get yourself a copy now and start to read, I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did!.
Ever since I read 'Filth' whilst working in a call centre I fell in love with Irvine Welsh's books. Glue is a classic Welsh novel, football, drugs, sex and violence told in a way only Welsh could.
The book focuses on 4 friends, Carl, 'Juice' Terry, Billy and Gally who seem to equally love and hate each other and they grow up together in Edinbrugh, each having their own story told from teenage years to adulthood, the way Irvine Welsh writes his novels is unique, he writes them with a Scottish twang, replacing words like 'know' with 'ken' and 'football' with 'fitba', you soon figure these out and the book almost becomes a Scottish lesson by the end!
Glue tells funny stories about the gang of 4 and also harrowing and disturbing stories about them also.
If you liked the film Trainspotting then there is no reason you won't like reading Glue, you'll find yourself painting pictures of the characters in your head and becoming attached to them and by the end of the book you become rather upset it's all finished, but looking forward to the next Welsh offering.
Violence, Football, Football Casuals, Edinburgh, Aids, Schemes, Drugs, Alcohol, Sex. Jumble them up together and you will come out with an Irvine Welsh book. I can't really call them ‘Novels’ as so few of the ideas are novel. I used to really like his stuff; I enjoyed Trainspotting and Marabou Stork Nightmares immensely and was vaguely impressed by his short stories. This all stopped when I read filth and was horrified by it. Not in a ' Oh that's terrible’ way, but more in a 'what is the literary value of this’ way. I swore never to read his books again, but I read good reviews of Glue and after seeing in on sale for a fiver- was unfortunately tempted. It's a big book and follows the fortunes/misfortunes of four people from Edinburgh. We see them at three points in their life, when they are around 14/15. When they are 25(ish) and when they are 35(ish). There is a little prequel giving some information about the respective families and their past- it gives some neat pointers as we often forget that the maligned housing schemes of today were actually desirable soon after they were built. The initial purpose was to re house people from 'the inner city slums' and although the homes soon fell into disrepair the initial idea was good, and hopes of the prospective tenants were high. The story centres round 4 young men. They are of similar characters to most of Welsh’s male characters and their lives centre around drink, petty crime, football violence and sex. The book has very few female characters, and as usual they are sketchily drawn. The few female characters are pretty one dimensional and only there for the gratification of the males. I accept that there are characters such as the ones Welsh draws in every city but I find the constant rehashing of the same themes and ideas quite frustrating. I suppose that everybody has a story to tell, but I did not find the 4 characters particularly interesting or be
guiling. I also find the book pretty unbelievable at times- perhaps the average persons life story is not particularly interesting, but a lot of the instances and situations are particularly unlikely. I may have had a sheltered childhood but I found the sexual liaisons of the 15 year olds quite astounding and when I read of 15 year old have sexual relations with 12 year olds outside clubs/pubs that they have no problems getting into I am a little disbelieving. Welsh spends him time painting unpleasant scenes in unpleasant schemes, and although life can be rough I would prefer it if he diversified a little. Maybe he does it to let the average reader realise how harsh life can be in some areas, but what it does is dehumanises and lumps everybody together. Each character tells part of the story from his character so we get quite interesting perspectives of each personality from another point of view. The four main characters are Andrew Gallacher, Terry Lawson, Carl Ewart and Billy Birrell. Lawson is the ‘jack the lad’ working on juice lorries while the other boys are still at school. Birrell is sporty- and fledgling footballer and boxer. Carl has an interest in music and the other boy is not so well defined. This component of the book finishes when Gallacher is imprisoned for his part in football violence. The second portion of the book is a snap shot of their life at 25, Ewart and Birrell are progressing into careers as boxers and DJ's respectively , while they others are in unemployed and having occasional forays into fatherhood. Gally has been imprisoned twice, the second time for unintentional violence to his daughter. It is made clear that he is not a violent man- just frustrated and unfortunate trip to the Octoberfest in Germany is planned - again unrealistic how could this trip have been afforded? The meet some Germans through Carl’s musical interest and end up staying in their home- a large house
which is soon due to be sold. Final component of the book is when they are in their mid 30's. Carl is a famous musician and DJ, Birrell is a successful Businessman and Lawson is portrayed as an immature 'loser' still living at his parental home. Gally is dead of a suspected suicide and since then their social interaction with each other is limited. The illness and subsequent hospitalisation of Ewart’s father brings them all together again when, as per usual in one of Welsh's books there is an explosive finale where lots of loose ends are tied up. As usual cleverly done, but I don't think anything new is really said. I didn't see much insight in the book and I won’t read any of his other stuff. It’s most irritating in being so unrealistic, sad to say, but in a set up like that these boys are not going to be millionaires, they will not be successful businessmen- their background, accent, criminal records and lack of education would play against them too much. I don’t mind a little lack of realism in literature, but there comes a point where it becomes ridiculous and glue was that sticky spot ( I’d imagine the title refers to sticking together like glue).
For so long now I have been going from book to book, wanting to put it down half way through because of sheer boredom. So you can imagine my relief when I get into this book. WOW!!! By the end I could feel depression looming as I really didn't want it to end. I have never read anything by Irvine welsh before but I certainly will be doing straight away, that's for sure. The story is about four children in the 1970's and their paths through life together up until the present, here is a brief synopsis of each character (Juice) Terry Lawson: This Character left school earlier than the rest in the hope that having a job and earning more money would get him more women (and it did) but then lost his job and couldn't find another job that was as easy so he took to a life of crime - house burglaries. He has already had a wife and a child and lost them from being unfaithful and then managed six months of faithfulness with his next girlfriend before he just couldn't resist. Carl (the milky bar kid) Ewart Carl was brought up in the scheme but by caring and loving parents who taught him right from wrong. He also has a great love of music which shaped his life in that he became a successful dj. Unfortunately being around the clubland crowd he gets quite involved in the drugs scene although he doesn't let it take over his life. Andrew Galloway (wee Gally) This is definitly my favourite character and when you read the book you will understand why, He is sweet and pretty and just completely lovable, unfortunately there isnt a nice story to tell, when he was a teenager he was imprisoned for something he didn't do, but because of the rule 'yer don't grass, ever!!!' he couldn't tell anyone who did do it so down he went. When he got out he was so desperate to 'pop his cherry' that the first girl he did sleep with got pregnant and he married her. A few unhappy
years later during an argument she told him she had been having an affair with the man who did the crime he went to prison for when he was a teen. He was gutted. Then they rowed some more and she hit him and as he went to hit her back he accidentally knocked his daughter in the face and off to prison he went again. When he got out he got heavily into smack and it was a downward spiral from there until catching AIDS made him face up to a few things. Billy (Business) Birrel The most mature and responsible of the four, Billy is a professional boxer and his success makes the other boys proud. His straight mindedness and ambition always meant he would go far. It also puts a lot of pressure on him when he has to be the conscience of the other three and deal with his own problems..... Another excellent twist to this book is it contains (briefly) characters that we know and love from a very famous Irvine Welsh book, trainspotting, namely Spud, Renton, Begbie and Sick boy. You see these famous four gowing up with our four new characters. This book is an amazing 469 pages long but dont worry you will not get bored, you will wish it was longer!!! This book is set in four sections - the 70's, the 80's, the 90's and the present day. Each of those sections is in four parts, one for each boy and in each section the boys speak as if you are in their mind, listening to their thoughts. There is a lot of toing and froing when you listen to each of the boys as sometimes they go over the same bits the others have and sometimes they miss bits and go back to it later but it is so easy to follow I just couldn't believe. I would say this book was aimed at ages 16+ it is certainly not a childrens book but Other than that it would suit all ages. oh and one last thing.... ... the Grammar initially you may think it is quite hard to follow but just follow a few simple rules and then before you know it, it
all falls into place. Ken = Know But = Though dae = do tae = to cannae = cant Please please please read this book, it is excellent!!!
"Glue" by Irvine Welsh has to be one of the best books of it's genre. Told in his now familiar style of speaking in the first person, involving you personally in the action, it's, as always, difficult at the start to determine which character you are, but persistence proves well worth it as the author takes you on an amazing journey inside the heads of the four teenagers (and their kin) during their teenage years and beyond into adulthood. His understanding of the mindset of each different person is excellent, as he lets you experience each characters emotions as they go through all the traumas, the angst and the joys and fun of those years. I was absolutely rivetted (or should I say glued) to each page in rapt attention as the tale of these lads' lives unfolded. But (why is there always a but!?) I kind of got the feeling that Irvine became a little bored about 3/4 of the way through and added a new character who gave nothing to the story except as an unbelievable plot twist and as a vehicle for him to end the book. There were potentially more interesting characters who had skipped into the tale earlier and, just as easily, skipped out again, who could have been developed into a believable ending. Or am I just being too picky. I am such a good writer that I can't even review this man's work with the eloquence it deserves, never mind create a story of my own. The test of a book is how you feel when you've finished, and I was satisfied, like after a good meal (And if you seen me you'd know how I like a good meal !) Irvine Welsh, in my opinion, is the most original and interesting writer in the mainstream at the moment. Buy this book - enjoy.
A degree of anticipation has been hanging over me whilst waiting for Mr Welsh’s latest book, and following Filth, his previous novel, it was mixed with trepidation as I can’t really say I liked Filth very much. It was too, well, filthy for want of a better word. Glue is a lot better though. It’s a step up for Welsh as he’s knocked out a respectable 464 pages and has looked beyond the slums of Edinburgh, well a bit, anyway. It still has the same wise cracking, dialect, drugs, love, sex and violence as usual, but with a bit more structure and maturity. The only major doubt is this, and it would be cowardly not to say it – Is this an original piece of writing, or has he, inadvertently or otherwise plagiarised his English counterpart John King? Kings latest novel Human Punk (hereafter known as HP) published last autumn, bears an extremely uncanny resemblance to Glue. If you aren’t familiar with Irvine Welsh, or his work, here’s a brief outline. Welsh grew up in Edinburgh on a housing scheme. If you’ve never seen an Edinburgh housing scheme, they are pretty dire and probably one of the main contributory factors to Edinburgh becoming known as Europe’s AIDS capital. Welsh himself was a heroin addict for a number of years, and this was the theme of what is probably his most well known work, Trainspotting, which was successfully adapted for the big screen in 1995. All of his books and short stories so far have been written in Embra (Edinburgh) dialect, which some may find difficult to follow, they are also written using the language of the streets, which in turn some may find unnecessary. It’s worth persevering though, as Welsh is a talented and compassionate wordsmith, as well as a great storyteller. Glue follows the fortunes of four friends across 3 decades. The foil of the group is “Juice” Terry Lawson, a witty, thieving womaniser who could charm the knickers
off his own Granny. Terry is a die-hard feminist, in that he thinks all women should be just as entitled as men to shag whoever they like. Andrew Galloway is small, shy and pretty. His father spends most of his time in Saughton Prison, so Gallie is without direction and bumbles through life. Hardman Billy Birrell dreams of playing for Hibernian FC, and his single-mindedness seems like it could be sufficient to take him all the way. Lastly there is Carl Ewart. Carl comes from a great, supportive family, was raised to be a good bloke and loves his music. The story begins in 1970, when the four start school, and takes snapshots of their lives at roughly 10-year intervals until the present day. This is the first marked similarity to HP. Kings novel begins with four 15-year-old friends in 1977 and looks at their lives in 1988 and the present day. Both books are stories of growing up as working class kids, and how tragedy affects the groups of friends in the long term. Both tragedies occur in the intervening years, and both are suicides. You could be forgiven for thinking, ah well, it’s a coincidence, why’s Daisybelle bleating on about it. Inside the cover of England Away, King’s third novel, is a quote about his first book, The Football Factory. “The best book I’ve read about football and working class culture in Britain in the nineties. Buy, steal or borrow a copy now.” – Irvine Welsh. So we know that IW reads and admires King, it’s just a case of deciding whether this is an innocent occurrence or not. The book begins using less dialect than usual. Welsh even repeats some of the lines in plain English, but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security, I think this a ploy to sell copies to browsers South of the Border. As the book progresses he reverts to type and the dialect comes on thick and fast. There is plenty of humour on offer and I ended up in stitches on several occ
asions. When the boys are pulled up by their Church Elder Headmaster, Blackie, for being late, he asks them what would’ve have happened if Jesus had been late for the Last Supper. Carl, brought up to speak his mind, answers “Eh would’ve goat fuck all tae eat”, at which point Blackie attempts to batter him with the strap. Welsh delivers it far better than that though, and my sides were hurting at the time. OK, so you had to be there. As in previous novels, he again employs the clever technique of putting the reader inside the characters’ heads, by means of them thinking out loud, so it’s very difficult not to empathise with even the grubbiest of situations. As usual there are guest appearances by characters from Welsh’s previous novels. Renton pops up a couple of times, as do the Begbie brothers, Spud (Terry bumps into him when they are trying to burgle the same house simultaneously), Lexo, Sickboy and many others. I always like this touch from Welsh as it makes it all seem somehow more real. As Glue spans a long period of time, it doesn’t have the electric pace of Trainspotting, but this isn’t a criticism. I found myself able to read it carefully and in a leisurely fashion, as I really didn’t want it to end. Welsh has made more of an effort in Glue to write on a broader stage. This means he introduces music, football violence and travel as themes, which yet again set him on a collision course with King, as HP is laden with musical references along with travel, and football violence is something King has done to death. I don’t want to say too much more on this issue, as to expand further on the similarities would involve giving away too much of both of the plots. If you’ve read either of the books and enjoyed them, try the other and see if you agree. I would have given Glue five stars if I hadn’t been so filled with déjà vu, but went for four instead. The
price also helped get it down to a four, though I guess Mr Welsh would just laugh and say I should have nicked a copy. £11.99 reduced to £9.99 at Ottakars is steep by anyone’s standards. Publishers seem to have cottoned on that a lot people just don’t like hard backs, and are going for these giant paperbacks as the first release. Personally, I’d rather they robbed me blind on a normal sized copy, as at least it would have been handier to carry on holiday, or more importantly, to stick up your jumper and sneak off to the toilets at work. I’ve wittered on a lot about how this book seems unoriginal. Both authors have the same publisher, Jonathon Cape, so you’d think the proof-readers would have picked this up. Maybe I’m just a dribbling idiot. Anyway, don’t be put off, it’s still a great read, filled with witty and sensitive observations in Welsh’s very unique style and I’d thoroughly recommend pinching yourself a copy this week.
Glue, the story of 4 close friends growing up in Edinburgh, is a very funny, very realistic and very moving book. Written in the same style as Trainspotting, Glue tells the story from the first person thus giving the reader a feeling of inclusion.