Reviews > Published on February 1st, 2016

Bookshots: 'A Decent Ride' by Irvine Welsh

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


A Decent Ride

Who wrote it?

Has everything you’d want and expect in a Welsh novel: drugs, sex, and scam, with just enough heart and humanity for the reader to latch on to.

Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting and Filth, both of which have been adapted to film. The Scottish novelist has published ten novels, four short story collections, and a myriad of screenplays. Welsh hails from Edinburgh, which often serves as a backdrop for his novels.

Plot in a Box:

“Juice” Terry Lawson is a man of many talents: porn star, drug dealer, cab driver. First seen in Welsh’s Glue, we find Terry wheeling, dealing, and shagging his way through life, right up until a medical condition pumps the brakes on one of his favorite pastimes. Without being able to indulge in a decent ride, Terry must dig deep in order to discover his life’s true meaning.

Invent a new title for this book:


Read this if you liked:

Trainspotting or Porno…basically anything else by Welsh. Also pick up if you're into transgressive fiction.

Meet the books lead(s):

“Juice” Terry: Our main protagonist. The corkscrewed curled Terry can usually be found fucking, driving his cab, or fucking in the back of his cab. A genuine sex addict, Terry is crushed to learn that he has a heart condition that can kill him if he engages in sex.

Jonty McKay: A slow-minded man with a huge cock and a penchant for McDonald’s. Jonty is Terry’s equally “talented” half-brother. When his girlfriend Jinty goes missing, Jonty is at the top of the list of suspects.

Ronald Checker: American businessman and reality TV star who enlists Terry’s help as he hunts for the Bowcullen Trinity. If the Triforce from Legend of Zelda were booze, it would be the Bowcullen Trinity. Ronald would scour the earth for this shit.

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

Henry Ian Cusick wearing a Howard Stern wig for “Juice” Terry. A lobotomized Dougray Scott as Jonty McKay. Kevin Bacon as Ronald Checker.

Setting: Would you want to live there?

A hurricane-ravaged Edinburgh that’s constantly cold and rainy and crawling with vice. Sounds fun.

What was your favorite sentence?

This should perfectly sum up what kind of guy Terry is:

“Fuck off means naw, naw means mibbie, mibbie means aye n aye means anal."

The Verdict:

If you’re on this site then I’ll assume you’re familiar with Welsh’s prior works—namely Trainspotting and Porno. You’ve at least seen the cinematic version of the former, and if I’m mistaken, then you should get on that right the fuck now. A Decent Ride is yet another expansion pack of Welsh’s Edinburgh universe, chock-full of seedy characters that are like old friends by now. “Juice” Terry may not have the junk addiction of Mark Renton or the can’t-look-away violent outbursts of Francis Begbie, but he is worth following nonetheless. Misogynistic to the point of parody and deeply flawed. A Decent Ride has everything you’d want and expect in a Welsh novel: drugs, sex, and scam, with just enough heart and humanity for the reader to latch on to. Although the phonetically-written Scottish dialogue will be a challenge to some, it yields a huge payoff to those looking for some good ol’ fashioned across-the-pond transgressive lit. I don’t rank this one quite as high as his others, but A Decent Ride is in my top five as far as Welsh’s novels go. Definitely worth checking out, regardless of whether or not you're familiar with those prior novels.

About the author

Brandon Tietz is the author of Out of Touch and Good Sex, Great Prayers. His short stories have been widely published, appearing in Warmed and Bound, Amsterdamned If You Do, Spark (vol. II), and Burnt Tongues, the Chuck Palahniuk anthology. Visit him at
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