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Books

From Jekyll back to Hyde: the changing face of Begbie

After a spell of clean living in Santa Barbara, Renton’s frenemy returns to Edinburgh, and more carnage, in Irvine Welsh’s The Blade Artist

23 April 2016

9:00 AM

23 April 2016

9:00 AM

The Blade Artist Irvine Welsh

Cape, pp.272, £12.99, ISBN: 9780224102155

Irvine Welsh’s 1993 debut novel Train-spotting flicked a hearty V-sign in the face of alarm-clock Britain. ‘Ah choose no tae choose life,’ crows its giro-cheating antihero Mark Renton, proudly enslaved to heroin instead of mortgage repayments. But when Welsh revisited his native Leith for a 2012 prequel, Skagboys, he threw over this bourgeois-taunting amorality for blunter politics: Renton, it transpired, first turned to heroin for pain relief after police beat him up on a picket line during the 1984 miners’ strike.

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