Recently as most of you will probably know T2 Trainspotting came out in the cinema. I watched and loved the first Trainspotting, and with the idea of T2 coming out, I had a look on the wonder that is Netgalley and found to my immense happiness that I was approved to read this Irvine Welsh book, featuring the one and only Francis Begbie. So, thank you netgalley, here are my thoughts.
Jim Francis has finally found the perfect life – and is now unrecognisable, even to himself. A successful painter and sculptor, he lives quietly with his wife, Melanie, and their two young daughters, in an affluent beach town in California. Some say he’s a fake and a con man, while others see him as a genuine visionary.
But Francis has a very dark past, with another identity and a very different set of values. When he crosses the Atlantic to his native Scotland, for the funeral of a murdered son he barely knew, his old Edinburgh community expects him to take bloody revenge. But as he confronts his previous life, all those friends and enemies – and, most alarmingly, his former self – Francis seems to have other ideas.
When Melanie discovers something gruesome in California, which indicates that her husband’s violent past might also be his psychotic present, things start to go very bad, very quickly.
The Blade Artist is an elegant, electrifying novel – ultra violent but curiously redemptive – and it marks the return of one of modern fiction’s most infamous, terrifying characters, the incendiary Francis Begbie from Trainspotting.
Published April 7th 2016 by Jonathan Cape
At the beginning of this book we meet Begbie, who is now known as Jim Francis, he is married with two lovely daughters. We are shown an unrecognisable ‘Begbie’, as he is devoted to his family and seems to have a lovely Californian life. Those who know Begbie only from Trainspotting would be confused, – as was I.
The story continues and we hear that Jim Francis has to return to Edinburgh because his son has been killed. Does returning to the place that made you, make you turn back to the person you once were? Everybody in Leith is expecting Begbie to take revenge, to show that side of him that he is known as. I’m not about giving spoilers or too much information on the plot, so if you want to know you will need to read the book yourself.
I loved the title of this book, and as you read about what Jim Francis does and did while he was in prison, the title is very apt.
“That’s the thing aboot bein an artist, ye get…..creative”
I liked the contrast between the two places, and how this is also reflected in the characters. At first it seemed difficult to imagine the Begbie we knew as this devoted American Husband and Dad, but as the story goes on, and we hear about Begbie’s past and we learn a lot more about him and the question you have to ask really is, ‘You can take the boy out of Scotland, but can you take Scotland out of the boy?’ (or maybe that should be Leith!)
It took me a bit longer to read this as Edinburgh dialect is used in the book, and while I live in Scotland I could easily understand it, it doesn’t read as easily as ‘The Queen’s English’. But it wouldn’t have been authentic Irvine Welsh if he hadn’t have used the dialect would it now?!
“Eh pilled ehsel tae ehs climbin frame n yanked ehsel up. Tried tae come at ays! It was ridic! he booted it oot fae under him and watched him crash tae the flair.”
This was an enjoyable book, which I read at a perfect time with T2 Trainspotting just out. It was gritty, character led and typically Irine Welsh.