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on 13 December 2009
I've read just about everything James Kelam has ever written and I must admit that I find it difficult to criticise him.This book is one of his best. Never mind the stuff about him giving a voice to the dispossessed and disenfranchised,which I happen to agree with and think important;this is a superb book about childhood , growing up and family life which will stand the test of time. Kieron's observations and perceptions of the adult world and the ups and downs of friendship are so unaffected and honest. I could write all night about him but my gut reaction , having just finished the book , is that Kieron is the closest you will ever get to a modern , urban ,working class knight. Kelman might not like me for using the word, "knight" but his eponymous hero's honesty , humanity and generosity of spirit strike me as epitomising the chivalric ideal.He always tries to do the right thing in his own humble way. He is not a "boaster" and he never lets his mates down.
I notice the Times review compares this book with The Catcher in The Rye-preposterous! This book is much better !You must read it.
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on 5 June 2010
It's not often I agree with the blurb on a books dust jacket, but after reading James Kelmans "Kieron Smith, Boy" I feel that I can enthusiastically endorse the claims made that he is "the greatest British novelist of our times". The hero of the book is one Kieron Smith, younger son of a family who live in the Glasgow (presumably) of the 1950's. It charts his experiences, conflicts and thoughts as related by him, from the age when he is in the middle years of primary school to his early years at secondary.

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.
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on 27 June 2009
Kelman is an incredible writer who has proved over and over again that he can reach into the minds of his narrators and produce fiercely inventive literature. Kieron Smith, boy does not disappoint.

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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on 4 August 2009
Utterly brilliant writing. It's impossible not to feel fully immersed in the inner workings of Kieron Smith's mind. And the way in which the reader is taken on this journey is incredible, as gradually, imperceptibly, through subtle shifts in language we sense Kieron grow and change, maturing in age, and toughening to fit in with the shape of the world he finds himself in. If you love literature with a soul as well as a voice, then you must read Kieron Smith, Boy.
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on 19 February 2014
Monotonous storyline . Might have been better if it had been shorter. A little lad who had could have been directed into so many openings given his energy nerve and principles but failed by his family, environment and education..
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on 4 January 2012
I skimmed and was annoyed by all the ****ing of profanities. Then I read and realised it was a ploy. Doh!
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