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on 30 January 2013
Despite the plethora of poor reviews this is a fantastic work of Scottish fiction. Personally I can relate to the existential angst which Hines suffers on a daily basis, suffocated by his own responsibilities dreaming of a life worth living. Kelman's style is idiosyncratic but I found it flowed well and I adapted to it within the first couple of pages. I read the book within a couple of days it was simply captivating. As has previously been pointed out this book contains expletives, but the book is set in working class Glasgow in the late 70's/early 80's language like that is to be expected. This is a great book which is reflective of the monotony and drudgery of living in working poverty, it is honest and unpretentious which may offend some middle class sensibilities.

To all those reviewers who can not stand 'bad' words head on down to your local high street muti-national book retailer and you will find plenty of contemporary quietist pulp fiction (most likely it will be '3 for 2') which paints the world as a wonderfully pleasant place, unfortunately for Hines and I such a world doesn't exist.
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on 15 July 2001
This is the novel James Kelman should have won the Booker Prize for, his powerful evocation of the 'daily grind' in 1980's Glasgow is haunting and darkly moving. Adhering to the Joycean ethic of making the 'ordinary man' on an 'ordinary day' the hero of the text, Kelman's modernist techniques take this to powerful extremes. This is socialist fiction in a dislocated and marginalised Britain where the character 'Hines' finds himself on the edge of sanity with no promise of the usual 'working class' escapes. There are no Glasgow street fights, drug excesses or football matches here, instead we are drawn into the interior monologue of an everyman, sensitive, intelligent, trapped and falling to pieces. Sounds a misreable read and when Kelman gets criticism it's usually because this is high brow lit which offers no 'plan of action' or 'dramatic entertainment'. But what Kelman does unequivicably is give the under dog a voice, and the everyday a place in art. This is an important book about the 'sectioning' of individual realities in modern Britain. Although this is about Thatcher's Britain, it's just as relevant today as it was when evryone ignored it back in the 80's
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on 11 June 2004
James Kelman's novel takes us into the cathartic mind of Rab Hines, bus conductor and social philosopher. Hines is complex, misunderstood and wonderful, but not extraordinary. Infact, I think many readers will identify with Hines' frustration and the erratic wanderings of his mind, which he won't let bus conducting and the rat race in general wear down. Although essentially a working class novel set in 1980's Glasgow, the novel does transcend its setting and Kelman's writing can be compared with Dostoyevsky and Hamsun and read as a flux of consciousness novel that embraces the universal themes of love, hope and despair but all through the individual mind of a Glaswegian bus conductor.

The novel evoked in me a strange mixture of emotions. Sometimes I empathised with Rab and his frustrations at the system. I found the love scenes between Rab and his wife and their mutual understanding of each other, combined with their mutual despair and frustration with life and each other, incredibly moving but never hyperbolic, always in perfect measure. However, although I consider myself something of a socialist there were points in the book where I just wanted to grab Rab and tell him to get on with it. It's this type of characterisation that makes the book so real and so touching. Hines is a true anti-hero, he is self-depreciating, stubborn, able, unable, loving and immense: "a perplexing kettle of coconuts" indeed.
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on 7 January 2013
This is one of those books that because you're interested in the subject matter, the location and the era you felt had to get better by each chapter. It didn't...total mince!
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on 1 October 2014
Didnt rate this book at all.
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on 4 November 2015
Read this as it was in my room in what was a few decades before the Ledra Palace Hotel on a UN tour 20 years ago in Cyprus as a predecessor had left it there. In many ways glad did not have access to other books at the time. Would never have chosen to buy it and would have not rated it had I done so. But my goodness it has made life since so much easier. We are all a Hines in one way or another, but this book shows us that that's not just ok but just fine. Thank you James.
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on 3 January 2013
good reviews but not my cup of tea.dissapointing.i did not enjoy reading this book and found it rather repetitive in some parts.
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on 23 November 2012
I liked the synopsis when I read it. I have a very broad range of reading matter and I am willing to try books I might not normally gravitate towards to stretch myself further. Language is an art form, to me a book is like holding another life form in your hands. I do not mind if its harsh or gritty, I am ex army, I have experienced the grit, grime, harshness, hard work and bad language, but this book is poorly executed. I hate how band language/swearing is an excuse for 'normal' language, a bit here and there I can accept, but endless reams is not a way to engage a reader, it's not a way to express harsh realities, it's a poor excuse. I want to be able to read expressive language, real language. I switch off mentally when I hear reams of bad language, said just for the sake of it.
I down loaded the 'try me' part of the book, and I never made it to the end. It sat in my mouth like a foul taste.
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on 15 March 2015
Sometimes interesting, but mostly just an effort to read.
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on 28 February 2013
Captures the idiom of Glasgow dialect extremely well. There is a lot of swearing, but it would be difficult to see how a novel intended for 'grown-ups' could avoid this if it is trying to be a naturalistic attempt to capture how real people think and talk. Expplores some very big issues in an intelligent and perceptive manner.
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