Short summary - Trainspotting - Irvine Welsh

British literature summaries - 2020

Short summary - Trainspotting
Irvine Welsh


A story about the life of drug addicts in Edinburgh, one of which finds the strength to get off the needle. Together with friends, he sells a batch of heroin and runs away with money to the mainland to start a new life.

The novel consists of seven large parts, which are divided into short stories, not going in chronological order. The narration is conducted either on behalf of Rents or his friends, or from a third party.

Getting down

Twenty-two-year-old Rents and his friend Dead are sitting on heroin. Deadman starts breaking, and the guys go to Swan - he usually has the purest heroin. In the apartment, Rents is expanding; he does not care. At home he brews a new dose. Heroin washes rents like a sea.

Holding the spoon over the candle with shaking hands and waiting for the rubbish to dissolve, I think: less sea and more shit. But this thought is not able to keep me from what I have to do.

Rents rents an apartment in which he is going to "get off". The pain from breaking is unbearable, and Rent's needs a small dose to "get off" smoothly. Swan disappeared, Rents has to go to another merchant. He sells low-quality goods and scoffs at customers, but Rentsu doesn't care. The dealer sells him anal opium candles - such give in clinics. Rents applies them. On his way back, he begins diarrhea. Rents enters the mall. Although the toilet is clogged and full of sewage, it uses it, and only then remembers the candles that have not yet worked. He has to look for them for a long time in a toilet full of feces.

Dead is dismissive of many friends.

A sidekick is a waste of time. They always strive to lower you to the level of their social, sexual and intellectual mediocrity.

Dead considers himself similar to Sean Connery. He's not as addicted to heroin as Rents. Sometimes a drug is replaced by women who are crazy about him. Everything else for Dead is a “zero filling this big black hole” in his chest.

Rents is hard to get off. Under the door of the rented apartment, his mother cries, but he does not have the strength to crawl to the door.

I love mom ... So much that I even regret that she has such a son. I would like to find a replacement, because it seems to me that I will never change.

For Rent and his friend Potato took the Office of the employment center. They are forced to find work, but friends do not want to work. A light drug helps them get interviews. At the interview, Rents honestly admits that he took drugs and is left alone. Potato, on the other hand, captivates the commission with its spontaneity that they can give him work.

On the needle

Rents, like all his friends, fears a guy named Franco. He has an explosive character, so they are treated very carefully.

I always noticed that the slightest shift in his idea of you is enough, and you instantly go from the category of sidekick to the category of the victim pursued.

He is able to start a fight from scratch and beat a man who is something different from him. Rentes believes that Franco became so because of friends who indulge him. They came up with a lot of fables about the guy, in which he now firmly believes.

Rents studied with Franco in elementary and high school, where he constantly remained in his second year. Rents tried to study well in order to go to high school and get rid of him. Rents constantly crossed paths with them afterwards and resigned to the fact that Franco was his friend.

To rent comes his friend Tommy, who had an argument with his girlfriend. Tommy asks him why he is expanding. Rents explains that “heroin is an honest drug,” eliminating illusions.

If you feel good under heroin, then you seem to yourself immortal. And if you feel bad, then you plunge headlong into the shit that surrounds you anyway.

In addition, it gives incredible pleasure. Tommy asks for a dose. Rents tries to dissuade him, but he insists. Before that, he had not tried hard drugs, and he likes it.

Climbing over a new one

Franco needs to disappear from Edinburgh, where he did things. His wife wants to stop him or at least find out where he is heading, but Franco hits the woman and leaves. This man does not love anyone, not even his child. Together with Rents, he goes to London.

Rents with the company goes to the bar to rent a girl. The first is Dead. He, as usual, is beyond competition. The second from the company is Franco. Rents and Potatoes with girls are not lucky. They are talking. Rents says that his older brother volunteered for the British Army again. He believes that he is dependent on the army as much as he is on heroin. An hour before closing, Rents rents a beautiful girl. She brings him to her place, they have sex, and in the morning Rents learns that the girl is a minor. Parents think that Rents is the boyfriend of his daughter’s girlfriend, they treat him to breakfast and ask what he does.

He did not do anything, in the sense that he did not work anywhere. But he was a member of a syndicate that traded in heroin, and made a profit at five different addresses.

Rents is proud to be able to sell drugs while keeping heroin addiction in check. To the girl’s parents, he appears to be a museum worker and a university graduate, although he did not actually study there for a year. Leaving, finally, with the girl from the house, Rents realizes that she contacted him to get hold of the grass.

To the eyeballs

Renta and Potato are tried for stealing books from stores. Since Potato is a repeat offender, he is given ten months in prison. Rents is trying to fight addiction, so he is sentenced to a fine and six months probation with the condition that he continue treatment and contact social services. After the trial, Rents and his friends are going to celebrate. On the way, he hears Dead selling his girlfriend. Rents doesn't like his friend becoming a pimp. At the bar, they meet Tommy, who is already firmly seated on the needle, but is sure that he can jump off at any moment.

Rents "slazit" on the system. He is given pills that make it easier to break, but they can be taken only three times a day. Rents is hard, and he goes to Swan for a dose.

Rents are sent for rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation is complete shit; sometimes it seems to me that it would be better if they put me in jail. Rehabilitation is treason to oneself.

He has to visit psychiatrists, psychotherapists and sociologists who are trying to find the reason for his addiction. The psychiatrist believes that she is in Rents' hatred of her younger brother, who was born a mentally retarded invalid and died early. Rents believes that the problems identified by psychologists have nothing to do with it. He injects himself because he does not want to choose a lifestyle that is considered to be right.

Rents 'breakdowns take place in his parents' house, where he gets after an overdose. His old room turns into a "torch hell." Rents are tormented by terrible pains and hallucinations. Parents do not allow him to leave the house. They don’t understand how hard it is for Rents, believing that the withdrawal is like a strong flu. Parents suspect that Potato wanted the son of heroin, and they consider Dokhloy to be a role model and willingly let him visit Rents. He asks Dohly for a dose, but he jumped off and was going to France with a gorgeous woman. After withdrawal, severe depression begins, and the need to live with parents makes it even deeper.

Rents's elder brother dies in an IRA bombing. Numerous relatives gather for the funeral. Rents did not have strong feelings for his brother, who mocked him all his childhood. At the burial, Rents barely holds back a laugh. During the wake, he locks himself in the toilet with his pregnant widow of his brother and has sex with her. He hopes his brother sees them now. He wants one thing: to get to his hiding place and "get involved."

In a foreign land

For a while, Rents moves to London. The people he was supposed to stay with are not at home. Other acquaintances are also inaccessible. He buys a ticket to a cheap round-the-clock movie theater where pornography is played. An elderly Italian, who turns out to be gay, sits next to him. Rents is not against homosexual experience, believing that a person should try everything. In any case, he has nowhere to go, and he spends the night in the old man’s poor home. The Italian was kicked out of the family because of his orientation. Rents pities him and leads him to the bar. There he realizes that he needs a woman, but all the normal “chicks” have long been taken apart, and only the old Italian remains to Rents.

At home

One of Rents' friends is dying of AIDS. After the funeral, at which each of the drug addicts recalls something about the deceased, Rents gets into the apartment of an unfamiliar girl. She offers a "joint", but he seriously tied.

Drugs now seem to me a terrible tedium; although, in fact, I’m much more bored now than before when I was sticking out. But this boredom is new to me, and therefore it is not as boring as it seems.

He refuses and leaves.

Rents has a new girlfriend, Kelly. She works as a waitress in a brasserie and often has to endure the dirty harassment of customers. She recalls the words of her boyfriend that all the waiters have power, and decides to avenge particularly vile visitors. Kelly squeezes the contents of her swab into soup, dilutes the wine with urine and adds feces to the chocolate sauce. They eat everything. She is satisfied.

Rents returns from London and visits Swan, whose leg was taken away - he stabbed in the artery and got gangrene. Despite the mutilation, he still wants to go to Bangkok, where women are so cheap and experienced.

Rents then comes to Tommy. After Tommy tried heroin, he completely went down, started using shared syringes and became infected with AIDS. He cannot jump like Rents, and he feels guilty.

Jumping off and getting hooked again is like going back to jail. Every time you sit in a jail, the likelihood that you can change your life is reduced.

Rents understands that Tommy will not survive the winter.

After leaving the hospital, Swan shaves his head and pretends to be a Scottish veteran soldier who lost his leg during the Anglo-Argentine conflict. He earns more on alms than on drugs.


Rents, Franco, Potato and Dead take the bus to London. They are carrying a sports bag full of drugs. In London, they have to sell the "powder" and share the profits. Dead is dissatisfied with accomplices. Franco is too aggressive and scared, and Rents and Potatoes are stoned. Dead is afraid that they will attract the attention of the police. Rents is brittle again, he stabs right in the toilet of the bus, the rest get drunk, but do not stop watching each other. Negotiations with a London dealer deals with Dead. After the transaction, friends leave money in a reliable hotel room and disperse. Rents feels bad, and he stays. Having difficulty understanding what he is doing, he stuffs a bag with money and gets out of the hotel. Having put part of the money into his account, Rents gets on a ship going to Amsterdam. Of all the friends he robbed, he is sorry only for Potato, who never offended anyone. Rents understands that because of the vengeful Franco, he will not be able to return to Edinburgh.

There he could never have become anyone else. Now that he was free from all of them forever, he could become what he wanted to be. Alone, he will stand or die.