Hmmm it looks like I’m not a James Kelman fan. I didn’t like How Late it was , How Late too much and The Busconductor Hines didn’t really impress me either.
It’s a book that’s supposed to portray a real working class person , with his trials and tribulations but it ends up just focusing on mind numbingly dull repetitive events , such as going down to the pub and screwing up his job constantly.
I didn’t love but I didn’t hate it either.
I first attempted to read this book back in 2001 but I got tired and left it unread. As I’ve had very good luck with revisiting the my past reads, I was sure that I would be able to tackle this novel and, furthermore enjoy it.
Unfortunately the things that bothered me the first time round still got to me nine years later. I’ll explain later on. At least I was able to finish the book.
After a rough night and being beaten by police ex-convict Sammy finds himself lying on the ground and blind. After trying to adjust into his new world (and finding out that his partner Helen has disappeared) he gets arrested again by and questioned if the police really did cause his loss of sight. Sammy is a vague about this. Later on he goes to a doctor to get a certificate that he is blind and the doctor refuses. By the end of the book Sammy’s son bails him out and Sammy leaves the country.
How Late…… uses the stream of conscious technique of getting its message across and Sammy (or the narrator) uses working class Scottish dialect. This already made the book a bit dragging. However it’s the complete lack of narrative structure which really made me squirm and angrily close the book at intervals.
I can understand that this is a book which deals with class struggles and the brutality of the police force but I find it way too difficult to cope with a novel that’s so messy. Maybe I am more traditional in my reading habits but I just find books like How Late… and City Sister Silver (see previous entry) just plain irritating.