'The finest kind of friendship is between people who expect a great deal from each other but never ask it.'
Have no doubts about this…Glue by Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting, Ecstasy, Porno) is not about solvent abuse, as much as I expected, but about the deep bond of friendship that acts like an adhesive in holding four friends together after three decades of growing up in the Edinburgh schemes. To be honest, I can only compare the book with South Park.
I found the book quite hard to read and not just because of its unnecessary length, 555 pages, but because of the trademark Scottish phonetics pioneered by Welsh running through this length. Nevertheless, putting the book aside now and coming up for air, I have to say that it is a very involving book with complex characters and that if one liked Trainspotting then one is bound to like Glue. This is because while the former was criticized for glorifying drug abuse, the latter only glorifies street principles and the relationship between those living by the code. Franco, Spud and Renton make cameo roles in this novel as well.
Like South Park, Glue has several characters but mainly revolves around the lives of four friends who grow up in Edinburgh schemes in the nurturing environment of street values. They are Terry Lawson (womanizer and lazy), Billy Birrell (boxer), Carl Ewart (famed DJ) and Andrew Galloway (drug addict and HIV positive). These guys have traits of becoming what they become later in their lives from an early age which perhaps goes to show that we all carry our futures in our pasts. We get a decade by decade account of their lives told by each of them individually as monologues and this presents different sides of the story and an interwoven storyline.
Needless to say, there will come a part in the book when you’ll sit back and say, “Oh my God! They killed Kenny! You bastards!” but I’ll leave it to you to find out who the Kenny is, not being a spoiler. This is not a book for the faint hearted because Welsh doesn’t seem to give a toss about readers who do not understand Scottish phonetics and the monologues of the characters are such that would pass for normal talk in a Scottish pub. But there is also the evolution of Scottish culture in the backdrop and how the lives of those living in Edinburgh revolve around it. From football fights, raves, snorting coke, dropping Es, the Oktoberfest at Munich, the numerous sex accounts…this book has it all. And what’s better, the next time a Scottish person talks to you…you will have at least some idea what the hell he/she is talking about!!