Irvine Welsh’s Glue, Though Long, is a Fascinating Character Piece

This was a crazy long book – nearly 500 pages. Now, 500 pages is often manageable, no problem, but these 500 pages are all written in varying Scottish accents. It’s an incredible feat, I think, that Welsh can write like this so accurately and consistently, but good lord can it be taxing to read. Certainly it makes the reader feel like he’s more a part of the story and makes the entire situation more tangible but that’s often at the expense of getting through the book in a reasonable amount of time.

I’ve read a lot of Irvine Welsh books, but this is the only one I ever started 5 times over the course of as many years. This last time, however, I was determined to push through the beginning and make it into the meat. And it was worth it.

The book is about 4 friends, and in each of four decades, the 70s when they are about 6, 80s when they’re in their teens, and the 90s when they’re in their mid-20s, we get a chapter from the perspective of each of these four friends. The fourth section, in 2000, is written differently, introducing new characters and bringing it all back around in a way I never expected. It’s a fascinating way to write a book, and I really enjoyed reading it once I understood what was happening and everything fell into a rhythm.

It’s hard, for a long time, to see the plot of this book. Honestly, I don’t know that the plot really registered with me until the end. Mostly, I considered it to be a character piece that told the tale of the lives of these four friends, their trials and travails growing up lower-class in Edinburgh. By the end, though, you realize that there was a story going on underneath, even if it wasn’t presented in standard plot, rising action, climax, falling action fashion.

All in all, it was very well done, and like I said, though long, quite good. If you’ve never read any Welsh I’d recommend starting elsewhere (classic Trainspotting perhaps?) and if you love his stuff then I’d give this one a ride and see if you can’t get your hole.

Have you read it? What’d you think? Wanna get your own copy of Glue? What’s your favorite Irvine Welsh book?

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Featured Author, Irvine Welsh: Currently Reading Glue and Loving It

Published in 2001, Glue is certainly one of Welsh’s longer books. As a master of the short story – and Acid House being an excellent example of this – Glue proves that Welsh has it with his longer books too.

And this is only a mid-way review!

Welsh’s most well-known work, Trainspotting, famous for its adaptation to movie form, demonstrated how funny, bizarre and absolutely deranged the author could be. Its sequel, Porno, was nothing to scoff at either.

Welsh’s ability to tell stories in accents most of us can barely understand when spoken, much less read, while engaging the reader in his characters and never letting their obsessions with sex, drugs and debauchery get in the way of truly masterful storytelling is truly a mark of his talent. I haven’t read an Irvine Welsh book, whether full-length or a short story collection, that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed. Of course, I have an unhealthy taste for books about disturbing topics and messed up characters.

Have you read it? What’d you think? Wanna get your own copy of Glue? What’s your favorite Irvine Welsh book?

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