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Swing Hammer Swing! Paperback – 25 Oct 1993

4.0 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • 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)
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Product description

Review

"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)

Book Description

'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 Telegraph

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Fortunately I have a copy of a Scots Dictionary. You will need it for this book if you are a sassenach like me.Oh but it is worth the effort. The author notices the tiny details of a grim and grotty life and renders them poetic and spellbinding. I remember reading that Jeff Torrington used to work for British Leyland at Linwood (no more) and this was his life's work. He is a perfectionist. Glasgow is a marvellous and a terrible city and this is a novel to match it.Rabbie Burns with Brylcreem. Dark humour, sten gun dialogue and dollops of emotion like hot metal dropped all over you. I adore it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have heard this book chosen a couple of times on a BBC Radio 4 programme and decided it was time to read it. As others have said it is laugh out loud in parts and some real off the wall stuff as well. The Glaswegian vernacular is sometimes tricky but you get the hang of it after a while and can use the context of the sentence to help. The humour was right up my street and all in all I would recommend this as a good read.
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Format: Paperback
A week in the life of Tommy Clay (and MacDougall) of sixties Gorbals, Glasgow, is a very funny yet almost plot less romp around. Without spoiling the plot less plot, it ends finally where the shrinkage of the image perspective becomes hard to bear. For `Tam', feels like he is a helpless cartoon figure, who is trapped in a scenery whirl around of repeater trees and born again boulders. A word of warning here though, for those of you (like me) are not into the `speak', it is not easy getting a handle on this. It took about one hundred pages to get there for me. Do not give up the effort is well worth it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am a born and bred Glaswegian and of my generation this story is set in 1960s when I was in my twenties. It is reported that SHS took 30 years in creation. I read it when it won the Whitbread in early 1990s and have read it again on Kindle. It is surrealist jaunt into a dark and changing Glasgow Gorbals and is written by a word master extraordinaire, especially if the Glasgow 'patter' is natural to you. The gallows humour and contemporary references may be difficult for some, but perseverance will be rewarded. Torrington passed on in 2008, we are forever denied more from his genius. His other work 'The Devil's Carousel' is a quite different offering.
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this a great read very interesting about Glasgow life. I enjoyed the book from the first page to last and anybody who borrowed the book enjoyed it as well.
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Format: Paperback
Genious! Pure brilliance from start to finish. Made me laugh out loud so many times. Buy this book - you'll relish every sentence.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Decent book writer loses the thread near the end and it becomes a bit disjointed and boring as he seems to be indulging himself and forgets about the reader.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a long-time fan of Scottish fiction, I looked forward to delving into Torrington's Whitbread winner with relish.
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.
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