Trainspotting Author Reflects on His Addict Days and Talks Politics

on Friday, 15 June 2012. Posted in Celebrities, Voices in Recovery, Breaking News

Irvine Welsh

Scottish novelist, Irvine Welsh, chuckles at the notion that he is living a dream, more than a decade after his first semi-autobiographical novel, Trainspotting, was made into a popular film.

According to, Welsh writes about the post-punk funk against the backdrop of Scotland's most famous city, Edinburgh. Welsh said, "I'm shown a lot of love there, and not much resentment. In Scotland, love often looks like resentment. Everything depends on initiation."

Welsh recently released a new novel, Skagboys, which is a prequel to Trainspotting in which the original crew makes their "transition from alcoholic fitba louts into fledgling heroin addicts," a decade before Trainspotting.

This new novel has been released in Canada, and entered the UK bestseller list at No. 1. Welsh has come a long way in his life, and in his writing.

In the 18 years since Trainspotting, Welsh has written 6 other novels. Two of them have been made into theatrical plays, recently made into movies. He also has a collection of short stories that was made into a movie in 1998. Four or more of his novels are in various stages of movie development, and he is currently working on an original HBO series, Knuckle. The series features a bare-knuckled grudge fighting between rival romany Irish families, as well as Eastbound & Down's creator, Jody Hill.

Welsh is now a permanent resident of the United States, where he has homes in Chicago and Miami. He fancies Chicago because he doesn't drive, and he admires the city's reliable transportation system. He spends winters in Miami, where he "finds much in its fascinating polyglot to inspire him." Welsh said, "There are great writers living in New York and Chicago, and I don't want to start muscling in there. Miami is in constant flux. Nothing's in the box yet."

Welsh recalls the years after he wrote Trainspotting. Back then, fans were compelled to drop drugs in his pockets. He said, "I always had to check my clothing before I traveled anywhere. Book tours always made me nervous." He claims to be more comfortable with his celebrity status today.

Welsh is a former heroin addict who cold-turkeyed. He was a rave kid who gobbled down ecstasy in his youth.

He says his appetite for intoxication is not what it used to be. He said, "I always had a feeling that my time with heroin was temporary, and that I would come out of it with some sense of enlightenment." He believes drug use is linked to human-work-and-celebration rituals. He added, "But instead of getting intoxicated after a hard days' work with others in the community, we use drugs to hide because we haven't earned our fun. When the community's not working we think drugs validate us. That's the problem. Drug use is so completely intertwined with the whole social economic mess that it's almost impossible to have a reasoned discussion about it. They are part of the fascination with consumerism in the West. The truth is, drugs can be fun, but they also kill." Many of Welsh's novels take place in Scotland, within his bleak world view where socio-economic frameworks are designed by the political systems he has little faith in.

Welsh said, "After the fall of communism, eastern Europeans lived on the promise of the milk and honey of capitalism. That's not the reality. What they see is very few people making loads of money, but most people are really struggling. In some ways they're worse off than they were before. At least they were working. As globalization plays out, I see the West and East converging. India, China, Brazil, Russia are all increasing in population, getting all the outsourced work we didn't want to do, and wanting goods and services they see advertised and available in the West. Not far down the line the Western middle class will be outnumbered by people with more money. The great tragedy is that capitalism is on its last legs and alternative systems have failed. There's nothing behind consumerism, nothing to replace it, and it's a house of cards. I think the Occupy movement is fantastic. I hope it gels into some sort of ideology. It needs traction in the working classes."

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