How Late It Was, How Late

How Late It Was, How Late

Book - 1998
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Sammy's had a bad week - 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 seems to have disappeared. 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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