Entertainment & the Arts, October 17, 2002
“Porno” by Irvine Welsh
Reviewed by Mark Lindquist
Special to The Seattle Times
Irvine Welsh’s first novel, “Trainspotting,” was an international best seller and a cult-classic movie. His witty twisted take on the youth culture of Edinburgh was daring and original.
Sales have been downhill for Welsh ever since.
His five subsequent books have been successful to varying degrees, but none has tapped into the motherlode of zeitgeist: “Trainspotting” nailed it. This is understandable, of course, as it’s a strange and rare confluence of circumstances that make a pop culture touchstone possible.
What’s a pop-lit author to do?
Well, Welsh has written a sequel. The “Trainspotting” boys are back: Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson, Mark “Rents” Renton, Danny “Spud” Murphy and psycho Frank Begpie. They’re 10 years older, not much wiser, still frantic and depraved.
Sick Boy returns to Edinburgh, where he buys a bar and begins plotting to produce a pornographic movie, not just a “grainy wank-boy’s cheapo vid, but a proper pornographic movie with a great script, a decent budget and really sound production values. One that’ll enter the canon of great films of the genre.”
The other boys get into the mix, each with scams and schemes of his own. The surprise is a fresh female character, Nikki Fuller-Smith, a massage-parlor worker who dreams of grander things. “A flash of elation rises and settles as it dawns on me. I want to be a porn star. I want to have men masturbating to images of me, all over the world, men whom I don’t even know exist!”
The book is narrated in alternating first person chapters by the various characters.
This is not a necessary sequel — if there is such a thing — but it is a worthy sequel. Welsh’s understanding and abiding affection for these characters once again redeems them.