Porno is a novel by Scottish writer Irvine Welsh, and is the sequel to Trainspotting. The book describes the characters of Trainspotting ten years after the events of the earlier book, as their paths cross again, this time with the pornography business as the backdrop rather than heroin use. A number of characters from Glue make an appearance as well.
This sequel picks up ideas of the film adaptation of Trainspotting. One example is the fact that "Spud" has received his share of the drug money, which is shown in the film, but only alluded to in the book.
The novel is divided into 3 sections, each of which comprises chapters with different narrators. Unlike Trainspotting which had more narrational diversity, Porno is reduced to just 5 narrators: Sick Boy, Renton, Spud, Begbie and Nikki. Another difference from the format of Trainspotting is that each character has a defined chapter heading. Sick Boy's chapters all begin with "Scam..." and then a number in front of a "#". Renton's all begin with "The Whores of Amsterdam Part..." depending on what chapter it is. Spud's chapters are just narrative, Begbie's are in capitals, and Nikki's are quoted. "...A SIMON DAVID WILLIAMSON PRODUCTION..." for example.
Each narrator is associated with a distinctive prose style. Renton, Sick Boy, and Nikki's chapters are written almost entirely in "standard" English while Begbie and Spud's chapters are in Scots. For example, in Chapter 25, Spud narrates, "So ah'm downcast when ah git intae the library, thinkin tae masel" ("So I'm downcast when I get into the library thinking to myself"). He also repeats certain words when talking such as "catboy" or "cat", "likes" or "likesay", and "ken?". Begbie often swears a lot during his chapters. Sick Boy's returning grandiose nature is featured in imagined interviews with John Gibson of the Evening News and Alex McLeish.
Nikki Fuller-Smith is a university student who works part time in a massage parlour. Rab, a university acquaintance, introduces her to his friend Terry Lawson and his underground, homemade pornography operation. The scene interests Nikki.
Danny 'Spud' Murphy has been regularly attending group sessions in an attempt to kick his drug habit. His relationship with his partner Alison is strained and Spud feels like he has become a burden on her. He considers his life insurance policy and contemplates suicide.
Meanwhile, in Amsterdam, Mark Renton is co-owner of a successful nightclub. One night, a DJ from his hometown (Carl Ewert from Welsh's previous novel 'glue') plays at one of his clubs and recognises him.
When Sick Boy learns of Terry's operation, he offers the use of the upstairs bar to shoot some scenes. During their first meeting, the group begins planning to film a full length adult film.
The first section concludes with "OOTSIDE", a chapter noting the release into society of Francis Begbie.
When Alison begins working at Sick Boy's pub and Sick Boy deliberately attempts to sabotage her relationship with Spud, the friendship between Spud and Sick Boy is strained. During one thinly veiled argument, Spud reveals that he received his share of the money from Renton. He also unveils his recent ambition, to write a history of Leith. Begbie visits Sick Boy's pub. As the two converse, Sick Boy considers the duplicitous trait of opportunity and threat accompanying Begbie's release.
Soon after, Terry, Rab and several other friends arrive and begin discussing their upcoming trip to Amsterdam, a bachelor celebration for Rab. Sick Boy is initially reluctant to attend but changes his mind after Carl, a DJ, mentions that he worked at a club in Amsterdam that was owned by Mark Renton.
Begbie is hit by a car while trying to run across the road to attack Renton, who flees the country with Nikki and Dianne, as well as Sickboy's £60,000, the proceeds of a financial fraud.
Sick Boy ends the narration talking to an unconscious Begbie in a hospital room, insulting him and saying things he'd never dared to say to Begbie's face before. As he reaches his peak and calls Begbie "Beggars," an insulting play on Frank's last name, he feels Begbie's hand like a vice around his wrist and sees Begbie staring murderously at him.
One of the major themes of "Porno" is the aspirations of its main characters, and the way their social status crushes them. This is more explicit in the chapters dealing with Spud, who tries to kick his heroin habit, tries to save his relationship, and tries to become a writer, only to fail because of his lack of education and common sense. The characters fool themselves into thinking that they can do better, and can do something important, and in the end, they are either in the same situation they were in at the start of the novel, or, in Mark Renton's case, in a better one not because they worked hard, and did something remarkable, but because they turned on their own friends, and scammed their way into their new status. Welsh claims that the only way to get out of Leith, and the environment that it entails, is to come to terms with your own nature-- which consists of being a merciless arsehole, with no real strings attached to any of your so-called mates.
On the other hand, Begbie has no aspirations, and is seen as a force of nature, a sort of Leith incarnated. He doesn't let other characters move on with their life, and destroys lives and aspirations whenever he makes an appearance.
Also, the class issues are exemplified by the fact that now, only Begbie and Spud, the only two characters that have made no real changes since the last novels, are the only ones who narrate using Scottish dialect, and Renton, who has changed over the last nine years, and Simon, who now considers himself rid of the Sick Boy persona, and sees himself as a businessman with prospects, use standard English.