I guess there's no easy way into a James Kelman novel. He is not the most accessible of writers to non-native readers because he uses the language of the vernacular to capture the essence of daily thought and speech patterns of the Scottish working class. Authentic it may well be, this style of writing is nevertheless limiting in its readership appeal. Thus, it was with some reservation that I began on "A Disaffection", my first Kelman novel. After stumbling around a bit with familiar looking words spelled funny and expletives that scream at you from nearly every line, I got into a rhythmn and found myself on the way to a strange journey that's not without its appeal. Kelman's stream of consciousness style means that we stay very much within the confines of our hero Patrick Doyle's mind. Nothing much happens but that's the point. Pat is a university graduate from a working class background, who hates and despises his job as a teacher, believes he is polluting the minds of the children he teaches with useless capitalist thoughts, secretly falls for Alison, a fellow teacher who's married, but is too scared to declare his intentions, and ends up being transferred to another school but cannot remember having asked for the transfer. It's bad enough that he's paralysed by inaction, his elder brother, Gavin, an unemployed builder, harbours a secret resentment against Pat for being the educated one in the family, not realising his lonely plight. The novel begins with two sets of pipes that Pat finds at the back of the Arts Club, intending to use as musical instruments. He never gets round to it. That's the story of his life. The pipes are a symbol of his private ambitions. They are painted and shiny but he never gets round to playing them at the nightclub after work. "A Disaffection" is remorseless in its pessimism and criticism of the state of Scottish society but it's also infused with so much good humour and honesty you leave the embattled scene not necessarily unscarred but alive. My first taste of Kelman may have been fraught with some initial difficulties but you get the hang of it and the final verdict is a thumbs up.