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on 21 February 2009
I've read this book 3 times now. It really speaks to me, so it might to you if you're thinking of reading it. Don't be put off by the negative comments. Get it from your library if you don't want to risk a few quid.

What I want to say is how funny I find this story. Yes, nothing much happens but a good writer can make the "ordinary" exceptional through their perceptive insight.

It is not heavy going though being from Glasgow probably helps a wee bit in the reading of local dialect.
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on 23 May 2001
Pat Doyle is a 29-year-old teacher who hates his job, and develops a crush on a fellow colleague, Alison. The story opens when he picks up a pair of pipes from outside the art centre. Throughout the novel he treats the pipes, and Alison, as a means of escapism - to the point of obsession. Naturally, it looks as if neither of these desires will transpire to much, mainly because Pat appears to be a dreamer. Even when he seems to take positive steps, we are sceptical.
Kelman uses familiar surroundings and dialect to create something entirely original. Like A Chancer, there's a sense of frustration when the main character seems so trapped - usually due to a lack of money and motivation. This could be said to mirror Kelman's own life; in an interview he's mentioned that his wife still has to work at the Social Security, despite him winning the Booker Prize for his novel How Late it was, How Late.
The key to the success of this book - aside from the deep sense of character so common in Kelman's work - is in the experimental language. There are traces of Joycean stream-of-consciousness, but with none of the pretension attributed to copyists, and, most importantly, no sense of the confusion common in Ulysses or Finnegans Wake. We may not know all of the literary references, but we definitely understand.
This is one of the most important novels of the 80s - if not ever. It's certainly one of Kelman's best.
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on 29 September 2015
Quality James Kelman. Dissolve into this Glasgow prose. A must read if you are a fan.
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I guess James Kelman isn't everyone's cup of tea. He seems (from reading only two of his works!) to do interior monologue of down at heel, ordinary folk very well. The trouble is, the interior monologue of down at heel, ordinary folk can be quite repetitive and rather dull. And, in case anyone is wondering, nothing happens. There isn't some brilliant twist that pulls it together at the end. Wysiwyg.

Having read A Disaffection, I feel that I know Patrick Doyle pretty well.I understand his failings and inadequacies. I understand how he is envious of his brother's family, as his brother is envious of Partick's education and job. I understand how hopeless is his infatuation with Alison and his inability to deal with women. But I'm not sure it was worth investing two weeks of very slow reading to get to this point. Maybe I'm just shallow...

Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate the book. Neither do I imagine it will fade from the memory as quickly as the latest murder mystery. It is a deep study of human nature. But I'm quite glad now to have my hands on a murder mystery as an antidote.
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on 27 October 2014
This novel works.....I am now disaffected. Too long, too indulgent, almost incomprehensible. Surely there's a simpler way to be pished with the teaching profession!?
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on 24 January 2002
Goes nowhere, does nothing except depress the reader (which may be the whole point of course, but who *really* wants to spend a couple of days with this guy?), "experimental" techniques with language = mostly poor writing (in my opinion of course!). A book that those who like to think they are in the know will love, but that most people will reject or give up as the hopeless tosh it is.
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