Brian is the protagonist in the collection's novella, "A Smart ****." Like the narrators of other stories in the book, he is quick-witted, rebellious, a heavy drinker and drug abuser, and has a strong antisocial streak that shades into criminal tendencies, yet he also is capable of remorse and even self-hatred over the bad things he does. The book's author, Irvine Welsh, does not present Brian or the narrators of other stories in a forgiving light, yet in showing that they sometimes agonize over their wrongs, he implies that they would be better people if they had not been raised in such morally impoverished surroundings. Brian and the other narrators, Jock, Euan, and Graham, appear to be alter-egos of the author, especially because they are more intelligent than the other roughnecks with whom they associate, and because most of the stories are told by them in first person. Usually, the protagonists are led into trouble through a combination of alcohol, drugs, and deplorable behavior initiated by others, but they are never unwilling participants. No hint is offered that the book's protagonists are not responsible for what they do, or that they should be forgiven their trespasses. Instead, the circumstances under which they cause trouble are presented as the primer mover of all this chaos. In other words, the protagonists cannot be absolved of the choices they make, but the author seems intent on making the point that these characters get into such mischief because of underlying societal weaknesses.