07 November 2007

Trainspotting. Irvine Wesh. 1993.

Irvine Wesh. TRAINSPOTTING, Secker, London, 1993

Current Selling Prices
$3000+ /£1500+

Top novel of the early nineties. Short listed for the 1993 Booker prize (the year Roddy Doyle"s "Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha" won). Druggy. Written in a Scottish / English dialect known as Port O' Leith. Reputedly only 600 hardbacks were bound up and (here it comes) most went to libraries. It is, however, as rare as rocking horse. Stunning debut novel, 'king good film, Ewan McGregor brilliant, shocking dead baby sequence, enough to put you off drugs for life etc.,

VALUE? Even the paperback, which is printed on the same sheets as the hardback, can get you a few hundred quid, the hardback is currently being offered by only one person-- a very high end Hell A dealer at $3000 and you can't argue with that price, Jimmy. Very hard to find and even the $3K one seems to have sold. Here is an example of IW's deathless prose- Tommy is discussing his drug problem:

If he asked us the question last week, ah'd huv probably said something completely different. If he asks us the morn, it wid be something else again. At this point in time though, ah'll hing wi the concept that junk'll dae the business whin everything else seems boring and irrelevant.
Ma problem is, whenever ah sense the possibility, or realise the actuality ay attaining something that ah thought ah wanted, be it girlfriend, flat, job, education, money and so on, it jist seems so dull n sterile, that ah cannae value it any mair. Junk's different though. Ye cannae turn yir back oan it sae easy. It willnae let ye. Trying tae manage a junk problem is the ultimate challenge...

One of a few passages in the book without a fuck or fucking or 'fecking.' Slightly reminiscent of 'Little Britain.' Occasionally the hero Mark Renton can talk cogently in bourgeois English about such subjects as existentialism (when up before a magistrate for stealing a book from Waterstones.)

First posted 9 months ago. Since then the $3000 copy has sold and I found an old Simon Finch (illustrious dealer of dernier cri books) catalogue from 2002 where he lists a copy (that sold, possibly discounted) at £2500 ($5000). He describes it as red leatherette cloth lettered gilt at the spine with the top edge speckled and a white printed and illustrated jacket. His copy was fine/ fine and signed by the pallid Welsh '...to a sad Trainspotting bastard.' He says, however, that there were only 100 copies 'intended for, and rejected by, the British Library System...' Such is the books rarity that this is more likely than the 600 posited above.

The paperback (said to be 1000 printed) is becoming hard to find in decent shape and is worth £200+, some ask £500 for it signed but Welsh produces a steady stream of books (none in the same money league) and does a lot of signings so presumably a first paperback can be shoved in front of him for a signature, if you don't mind being called a sad bastard. [ W/Q *** ]

TRIVIA. A deserted railway station in Leith provided the shoot location for the dust jacket and paperback cover – two figures in death masks at the front (Welsh and a pal) two trains clearly visible in the background. This is, according to Welsh, a visual reference to the novel’s title, which compares the obsessive nature of heroin addicts to that of trainspotters. They also share a vocabulary – drug injectors talk about “mainlining” into their veins and have “tracks” left from repeated needle entry into the same place. The editor of the book was Robin Robertson, a serious book collector as I recall; the photos were by David Harrold. Secker went bust, Minerva who took the book over also went to the wall. Sic transit...


Anonymous said...

..that wid be feckin innerestin if it was at anny thin to do wi the sojject n not fecking spam. Hugh MacDiarmid

SorenWagner said...

as you know books aren't my main thing, but this post definitely caught my attention. nice accent.

Anonymous said...

Ah Andy, ya culd dae better than ta leaf yer pracessed meat werds on this poste. Go forth an multaply laddie.