Kieron Smith, boy Paperback – 30 Apr 2009
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'Magnificent and important ... might just be Kelman's greatest achievement to date' - Irvine Welsh, Financial Times 'A vibrant, beautiful portrait of childhood ' The Times 'I have read no other depiction of the inner life of a boy that comes as close as this to The Catcher in the Rye ' Literary Review
About the Author
James Kelman was born in Glasgow in 1946. His books include Greyhound for Breakfast, A Disaffection, which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and How Late it Was, How Late, which won the 1994 Booker Prize. His more recent novels are Translated Accounts and You Have to be Careful in the Land of the Free.
Top customer reviews
I notice the Times review compares this book with The Catcher in The Rye-preposterous! This book is much better !You must read it.
This is an extraordinary performance on Kelmans behalf; the reader is thrust into the scuffed shoes of Kieron and will find it difficult to take them off, at least voluntarily. The book is utterly absorbing, and as someone who was once a boy himself, though an east coaster rather than a west coaster, and who grew up a few decades later, I found myself constantly back in my own past as well as transfixed by Kierons story. The re-creation of the young boys mentality that Kelman has put into writing is an awesome artistic achievement.
The book is at times melancholy, such as when Kierons granda is enduring his last hospital bound illness, but can often be hilarious such as when Kierons ruminates on religion, principally the differences between "Papes and Proddies", a running theme in his mind, and realistically so given the location of his childhood. The account of life in inner city Glasgow before moving to an out of town scheme, at school, in the tenement flat, at his gran and grandas, his conflicts with his older brother and parents, and those within Kierons head never once struck this reader as anything less than completely real.
Non-Glaswegian readers will be grateful to Kierons mammy, whose constant needling of Kierons pronunciation and nagging in the cause of "proper" English are reflected in Kierons narrative voice. Even swear words are asterisked out, at least until Kieron is away to secondary school.
A short review cant do justice to such a substantial, compulsively and compelling work of fiction. I had thought that Roddy Doyles Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha was the last word in fiction from the point of view of a child, but Kelman has excelled beyond even that high standard in this marvellous novel. Well recommended.
It is not an easy read - it is dense, packed with the author's precise writing, and does not follow a conventional story arc. Instead, Kelman uses language with startling power to create the life of a working-class Glaswegian boy.
Fans of earlier work will notice some familiar motifs: a greyhound ambles past in one scene; Kieron is disappointed that he must hand over his paper round tips money; an uncle bets too much money on the horses and leaves to find his fortune in London.
I was lucky enough to hear Kelman reading from the book at a Glasgow event - an experience I recommend, as he is one of those authors with a gift for reading his own work.
Don't miss this book.
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