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Literature: Porno

Irvine Welsh's fifth novel, Porno is the sequel to the iconic Trainspotting, following the original's four core characters plus a new female addition. It's a study of how far you can push friendship and relationships in the face of betrayal, past mistakes and differing agendas. Other major themes include paranoia in the context of the hunter and the hunted, and attempting to prosper in elder years amongst a cohort and environment which has changed almost unrecognisably in the new millennium.

Simon "Sick Boy" Williamson is still scheming and burning his way through people in the big smoke, but something is missing. Leaving his bar job under acrimonious circumstances, he agrees to his auntie Paula's offer of taking over the Port Sunshine pub back in Leith. He recognises one last big chance to flourish his egotistical obsessions and cashflow: a feature length porn film named "Seven Rides For Seven Brothers" starring the hottest sluts and best hung studs in town. Yet the only way to fund this project is to scam yet more people... like it's going out of fashion. All the while fuelled on a Colombian factory level quantity of cocaine.

Mark Renton has, believe it or not, been enjoying a prosperous life in Amsterdam. Notoriously fleeing his friends at the end of Trainspotting with thousands of pounds, he's cleaned up from hard drugs and invested in a popular nightclub. Nevertheless, he's wary of an encounter with his old mates and has been practicing karate for an eventual encounter with the dreaded Begbie. What's more, he's tired of his relationship with a jaded German woman and knows that sooner or later he'll have to be moving onward. But even his cautious administration of the club behind the scenes can't keep him hidden from Leith eyes for ever...

Nicola Fuller Smith or "Nikki" is a twenty five year old English student and proud super-bitch who feels her life is stalling with no decent opportunities ahead of her. She's bored of her modules, changes uni and programme frequently and relies on illicit massage therapy at a local sauna to make up the bills. Joining her highly strung flatmate Lauren and their new friend Rab Birrel on the Edinburgh film studies course, she gets introduced to his sex crazed mate from way back, Terry "Juice" Lawson and his posse of stag video associates. Enjoying the company, and encouraged by Rab's ideas of making a "thinking man's porno", she signs up for a leading role and gets into a torrid affair with Simon. She also is a main player when it comes to the writing and financing of the picture.

Franco Begbie has been serving further prison time for a murder of one of his psycho contemporaries (albeit he managed to disguise it as a justified self defence kill). Tormented by anonymously-sent gay erotica magazines and brooding heavily about revenge on various parties (not least of which Renton), he walks out of Saughton with the intention of never returning. But he's eager to pick up things exactly where they left off and find a new "burd" to replace his battered ex-wife, June. Parenting their two sons however isn't high on his priority list.

And last but not least, Danny "Spud" Murphy is at a crossroads with his girlfriend Alison. He's almost finally kicked heroin, but minor relapses, thefts and continued unemployment are doing nothing to impress her. Forced to live independently from Ali and their son, he decides to write a celebration of local Leith history to turn his fortunes around. However, a horrific drinking session with his prison chum Chizzy and difficult reunions with the old school crew threaten his hopes for a better life.


Provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Ascended Extra
  • Ax-Crazy: Begbie outdoes himself here, popping his murder cherry for the first time. Well, that we know of, at least.
  • Because I Said So: One of Begbie's mantras, as per usual.
  • Biggus Dickus: Curtis, a shy teenager whom Sick Boy initially refers to as "an apprentice Spud" until his sees the size of his penis in the toilets. He is immediately signed up for the titular porno.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: To lesser and greater degrees, all of the lads:
    • Begbie has spent most of The Nineties in prison and everyone has mobile phones when he gets out, much to his chagrin. Also, his furniture store he owned with fellow bam Lexo has been converted into a Thai restaurant/cafe and he's not best pleased with the poxy payoff given as remuneration. And Sick Boy and Spud can hardly be bothered to play card games with him and the other nutters!
    "Wits fuckin wrong with ivray cunt?!"
    • Sick Boy's ability to charm women is diminishing as his gut widens, his nose rots and his looks fade. This was the primary interest of his in 1980s Leith. Also, he forgets once again that if you're going to use people, they might just bite back. They're wiser to his game this time round.
    • Renton has spent the last decade in the Dam and finds Leith to have morphed beyond his comprehension in the interim.
    • Spud is still hitting bad luck again and again, and the new order has even less place for him than it did back in the day.
  • Freestate Amsterdam: Renton's place of safe haven since the original novel, and Rab's stag do get away of choice. Sick Boy eagerly joins the stag just so he can track down Mark to demand his money back and bring Rents back to the fold.
  • Humiliation Conga: Sick Boy gets fucked over at the end of the novel. Just look at his character tropes to learn the myriad ways in which this transpires.
  • Idiosyncratic Chapter Naming: Each character has their individual chapter naming convention:
  • Manipulative Editing: Sick Boy does this to the porn film to make it look like Nikki has done anal, when she refused to do so. He adds his name to every role in the credits, displacing Nikki and Rab's roles in writing the script.
  • Pædo Hunt: Begbie's motive for eventually murdering Chizzy when they meet for the first and last time in the pub.
  • Sex Equals Love: Dianne and Mark finally end up together, making this trope applicable even though it takes them ten years to get there.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: This comes to shine very clearly through the cracks of Sick Boy's deceit.

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