Review: How late it was, how late. James Kelman. 

The last book to read of my challenge and it’s a classic Booker prize novel, a little bit unusual and strange and in all honesty – quite hard to read. The book is a stream of consciousness novel written in a heavy Glaswegian accent. Sammy, the protagonist, is a guy who comes across as trying hard to make an honest living but can’t quite help but fall into a dodgy deal to make a quick buck in a ‘just this time’ kind of way. I’ve found these kind of books you’re best off embracing the heavy accent and reading it like that so you get into the flow of the writing. For examples… “He wouldnay even notice she was glowering, no at first.” 

Sammy’s got himself into trouble with the police, and finds himself in jail. However, he doesn’t remember how he got there, except that there were some soldiers ‘sodjers’ around, and he’s lost his sight. The book seems more than a little bit unbelievable at points in how the police just think he’s faking it, then so does the doctor, and then there’s the plot line about his missing girlfriend which is never really followed up. 

I found it a frustrating story overall, but Sammys character is the only one I liked despite his dodgy dealings and slightly shady past. I found myself rooting for him to make good and get himself sorted. 

Without giving away the ending Sammy triumphs over it, not his problems solved but problems dealt with and a plan to move forward with his life. 

It felt strange finishing this novel, the last of my Booker winners list. I’ll write a separate post about the challenge overall, but I’ve always had another book from the list, or from the pile next to my bed to move on to, but now I don’t! 

Sammy on sleep: 

“But the trouble with sleep is ye cannay just fucking command it to happen, it just does. Sleep. Fucking amazing so it is. There he are all wrapped up in yer own body, snug as fuck. Ye lie there like there’s nothing else exists in the world. Ye don’t fucking want anything else to exist.”

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