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Andy Beckett writes:
From the first pages of Skagboys, it’s clear that Welsh is taking fiction more seriously than he has for a while. Renton’s relationship with his working-class parents – a relationship that is claustrophobia-inducing and intolerable to him, a source of sadness and bewilderment to them – is established in earnest detail. The mockery and rejection of a pre-1980s Scottish masculinity based on manual work, drinking and hometown loyalty are central themes of both Skagboys and Trainspotting. Renton and his mates prefer restless pleasure-seeking and stronger intoxicants, along with petty criminal forays across Britain and Europe. Yet intermittently Renton and the others also register, with a vague sense of melancholy, that in their way of life, and in mid-1980s Scotland generally, some valuable things are being lost.