- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (25 Oct. 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0749397470
- ISBN-13: 978-0749397470
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 426,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Swing Hammer Swing! Paperback – 25 Oct 1993
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"A gamey, pungent, vulgar sprawl of a novel, somewhere in the hinterland where Damon Runyon meets James Joyce" (Observer)
"Swing Hammer Swing! is a great novel" (James Kelman)
"A crazily good read... this [is a] fantastic first novel" (Scotland on Sunday)
"It is such a good novel, with such energy of language and gift for striking off memorable scenes, that its appearance at any time would be welcomed . . . It prompts reflection on how much it would have benefited Scottish writers if 20 years ago a novel had been published with Jeff Torrington's absolute lack of compromise or temporising explanation in the use of Glasgow material and dialect" (The Scotsman)
"This might be the Gorbals, and the banter might be exchanged on the steps of tramp-haunted urinals, but the reference points are Nietzsche, Pascal, Chekhov and Sartre'" (Independent)
'Swing Hammer Swing! is a seriously good novel. Critics have rightly claimed that he does for Glasgow what James Joyce did for Dublin' - Stephen Pile, Daily TelegraphSee all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
The two novels I constantly advise reading of are 'Swing Hammer Swing' and Steinbeck's 'The Grapes of Wrath'. Quite different stories but both penned by masters of their art.
Written in the Scots demotic that his compatriots James Kelman and Irvine Welsh have received so much criticism and acclaim for, respectively, Torrington tells the story of the, literal, decline of the Gorbals of the 1960s over one week in the life of Tam Clay.
Father-to-be, wordsmith manqué, adulterer, heavy drinker and accidental arsonist, Tam Clay is the itinerant voice of the working class.
According to The Scotsman's obituary of Torrington, the author was `fêted by the London literary establishment as the epitome of the working-class Glaswegian done good', yet the aforementioned Kelman, when his `How Late It Was, How Late' won the 1994 Booker Prize, had his novel labelled as a `disgrace' by one of the judges, Rabbi Julia Neuberger.
I've very little authority to judge what is authentic working-class Glaswegian voice, having grown up in a middle-class West Midlands family, but there seems to be very little difference between the two voices apart from:
1. Torrington's narrator, Tam Clay, is a more educated man, making overt references to Sartre, Kierkegaard and other renowned authors.
2. Torrington's Clay swears a lot less than Kelman's, Sammy Samuels.
Essentially, it seems there is a working class voice the establishment one can accept, one that is essentially inferior and happy to be inferior to them, with no pretensions of uprising; and one that they cannot accept, one that is boisterous and is ready to put up a fight in the name of his condition.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Loved it, Glasgow humour and wit well portrayed here by Jeff Torrington.Published on 21 July 2014 by Danny Gill
A book discussed at a book group. General opinion was that it was muddled. The subject looked interesting but disappointed us. Read morePublished on 4 Sept. 2013 by AM
I bought this book on the basis of rave reviews. Torrington's admirers compare him with James Joyce and Damon Runyon, and say that the influence of Nietszche, Pascal, Chekhov and... Read morePublished on 31 Aug. 2013 by Toponymist
I bought it because of a Radio 4 programme, where in fact it did get mixed reviews. Being from Glasgow, I thought I'd like it. Read morePublished on 10 Aug. 2013 by Sr M. Fitzsimmons