How Late It Was, How Late

How Late It Was, How Late

Book - 1998
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Sammy's had a bad week - most of it's just a blank space in his mind, and the bits that he can remember, he'd rather not. His wallet's gone, along with his new shoes, he's been arrested then beaten up by the police and thrown out on the street - and he's just gone blind. He remembers a row with his girlfriend, but she seams to have disappeared; and he might have been trying to fix a bit of business up with an old mate, he's not too sure. Things aren't looking too good for Sammy and his problems have hardly begun.
Publisher: London : Vintage, 1998, c1994
ISBN: 9780749398835
Branch Call Number: FICTION KEL
Characteristics: 373 p. ; 20 cm


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Oct 03, 2014

I remember hearing about this book when it won the Booker prize in 1994 and was a somewhat polarizing choice, with one judge calling it crap, a critic describing the win as "literary vandalism" and Kingsley Amis complaining that it debases the use of vulgarity. Scottish novelist James Kelman's novel opens with its ex-con anti-hero waking up drunk and confused. He's arrested and beaten by the police and loses his sight, and spends much of the novel walking around blind. It's a somewhat unlikely mix of Beckett, Kafka, and "Ulysses." If you've read "Trainspotting," you'll be familiar with the use of Scottish idioms and colorful vulgarities (hope you like the c-word). Wikipedia describes the style as stream-of-consciouness, but that's not really accurate. The accumulation of coarse language and bleak events has both a hypnotic rhythm and a monotony. I would advise reading this in the darkest, most depressing bar you can find.

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