I have tried to read Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens books about atheism in the past and struggled to finish them because they were so angry with religion. It’s true that religion has done a lot of harm over the years, but Alain De Botton’s approach in this book is much more palatable.
Rather than attack the faithful with frothy mouthed invective, DeBotton looks at what religion has to offer when you strip away the magical fantasy elements and look at the tangible things religion has provided over the years. This includes a form of community, consolation when things go wrong and a set of rules to live our life by.
An argument is made for an atheistic religion which puts aside the implausible bits about a religious faith but extract the socially useful things. I expect that this could be insulting to the devout but probably only those that actively seek out things to offend their delicate sensibilities.
As an aside, the kindle version of the book is left aligned all the way through, rather than justified, which makes it look a strange. Given that the cost is similar to the print version it seems a little sloppy of the publisher but its not a massive problem.
This is a relatively short book, but there are plenty of ideas crammed into the pages and I found it an excellent read.
Buy a kindle verision from amazon.co.uk here
Or the paper copy from amazon.co.uk here
Or the paper copy from amazon.com here
For some reason there isn’t a kindle copy available on amazon.com which seems a bit weird.
Kurt Vonnegut said that you should always start a story as late as possible, something which Irvine Welsh did with his first book Trainspotting, which has meant that he could revisit the story 20 later years for this prequel.
Skagboys follows the main characters from Trainspotting in the years building up to the original novel. It covers their descent into heroin and covers the hectic world of Edinburgh schemes in the 80s. I have read most of Irvine Welsh’s books and think this is right up there with the best of them. It encapsulates the hopelessness of addiction but does not moralise or try to offer up any lessons.
The characters drawn from the poor areas of Leith all jump of the page and come across as fully rounded individuals, partly due to the phonetic spelling Welsh uses for their speech, which takes a bit of picking up but gives the characters a strong voice. The middle class characters tend not to be as well rounded and they feel a little bit two dimensional compared to the vividness of the “schemies”.
I found that the book really sprang to life whenever Begby was involved. He is a violent psychopath but at the same time has a kind of insane logic to his behaviour that makes him almost likeable. I found that the scenes he was involved in really light up the book and would personally love to see a novel dedicated just to him.
The book was reviewed on Newsnight Review just before its release and I remember one of the people on there saying that this book was not as relevant as Trainspotting because society has moved on since the time this book is set in. The story covers disaffected youths, thrown on the scrap heap by the Tory government, a familiar story to anyone who has seen a news report about youth unemployment.
If you wanted to get an understanding of the mentality of the kids rioting in London last summer, this book would give you a fair insight. I am giving this book a five star rating, it might not quite reach the heights of Trainspotting but over the 500+ pages it consistently entertains and provides a great background to the characters depicted in Trainspotting. The morality of the people in the book is abhorrent at times but I think that is part of the joy of Irvine Welsh’s writing, he can find the humanity in the most horrible human beings. A great read.
5 out of 5
Here are some links to the paperback and the kindle versions:
I have just released an update for my Gang Land app, which effectively doubles the length of the story. It is available to download from the Google Play website right now. Click here to get it.
This adds an additional chapter to the story, taking you deeper into the criminal underworld and dealing with the pressures that come with being at the top of a crime family. If enough people give good reviews I will look to add additional chapters.
Some of the feedback from the reviews has pointed out that the game is too short, so this will address that issue and also sets the story up for further updates in the future. If anyone has any suggestions about what they would like to see happen in chapter 3 please leave a comment below or tweet me @the_wint and I will see what I can do.
Expect to see more updates on my other apps in the coming weeks. My plan is to write new chapters for each app and then maybe start working on something new. I also plan to write the second draft of my novel at the same time, so its going to be pretty busy in the next month.
A couple of my apps are now on the Amazon.com android app store – here are the links:
Zombie Survival – You Decide
Wild West – You Decide
Unfortunately you can only get these games through amazon if you are based in USA but you can still download all my games for free through Google Play which you can find by clicking here.
I must admit that the amazon app store seems a little pointless when Google’s app store already has every app listed there but it seems that there are quite a few people who like to use amazon instead.