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How Late It Was How Late Paperback – 6 Mar 1995
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"Ye wake in a corner and stay there hoping yer body will disappear, the thoughts smothering ye; these thoughts; but ye want to remember and face up to things, just something keeps ye from doing it, why can ye no do it; the words filling yer head: then the other words; there's something wrong; there's something far far wrong; ye're no a good man, ye're just no a good man." From the moment Sammy wakes slumped in a park corner, stiff and sore after a two-day drinking binge and wearing another man's shoes, James Kelman's Booker Prize-winning novel How Late it Was, How Late loosens a torrent of furious stream-of-consciousness prose that never lets up. Beaten savagely by Glasgow police, the shoplifting ex-con Sammy is hauled off to jail, where he wakes to a world gone black. For the rest of the novel he stumbles around the rainy streets of Glasgow, brandishing a sawed-off mop handle and trying in vain to make sense of the nightmare his life has become. Sammy's girlfriend disappears; the police question him for a crime they won't name; the doctor refuses to admit that he's blind; and his attempts to get disability compensation founder in Kafkaesque red tape. Gritty, profane, darkly comic and steeped in both American country music and working-class Scottish vernacular, Sammy's is a voice the reader won't soon forget. --Mary Park
"Beautiful, spirited thoughts hard up against the old brute truths...enormous artistic and social depth...James Kelman's best book yet" (Guardian)
"Forging a wholly distinctive style from the bruised cadences of demotic Glaswegian, Kelman renders the hidden depths of ordinary lives in sardonic, abrasive prose which is more revealing of feelings that could ever be expected...as uplifting a novel as one could ever hope to read" (Sunday Telegraph)
"A passionate, scintillating, brilliant song of a book" (Independent)
"Gritty, realistic and bleak, but the overall tone is strangely positive. The fast pace of the narrative, Kelman's dry humour and the indomitable spirit combine to provide a liberating read" (Big Issue)
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After enjoying the novel's of Irvin Welsh a friend
recommended I read the glasgow writer James
Kelman. I chose 'How Late It Was, How Late' to
This novel by Mr Kelman is not a comfortable
read. But non the less a fine one. The character
of Sammy has hit a rough patch in his life ( to say
the very least). After his wife leaves and he has to
get by on the dole or in Glaswegian speak here 'the
brew' his troubles have only just begun.
Sammy is a determined, funny and relatable character.
Finding himself losing his sight one day. having been
locked up in a prison cell our Sammy adapts with admirable
spirit to his new dark life.
I didn't really notice or care about the many other characters
in this original novel. Sammy's adversity is one in which I found
myself cheering him on to the final page.
My friend's recommendation to read James Kelman led me to
thoroughly enjoy other books by him. In particular the short story
collection ,'Not Not While the Giro' and the very readable
'The Busconducter Hines'.
I recommend Mr James Kelman's work if you seek original, darkly
funny and very well written books.