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How Late it Was, How Late
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How Late it Was, How Late

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  2,957 Ratings  ·  210 Reviews
One Sunday morning in Glasgow, shoplifting ex-con Sammy awakens in an alley, wearing another man's shoes and trying to remember his two-day drinking binge. He gets in a scrap with some soldiers and revives in a jail cell, badly beaten and, he slowly discovers, completely blind. And things get worse: his girlfriend disappears, the police question him for a crime they won't ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published October 17th 2005 by W. W. Norton Company (first published March 28th 1994)
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Alan Wilson Not at all, except through the channel of influence trickling down through Joyce / Beckett / Kelman. It is certainly similar to the interior monologue…moreNot at all, except through the channel of influence trickling down through Joyce / Beckett / Kelman. It is certainly similar to the interior monologue style of, say, Molloy, and those commonalities are even more pronounced comparing Patrick Doyle's monologues (A Disaffection) with Molloy's. Ulysses was the events of one day (two days bookending one night actually) but was a voyage across a vast literary planet whereas How Late was over a longer timeframe (a week) but in scope just a blind scrambling ramble around a few blocks of Glasgow. The two works just can't be compared in literary scale, but I loved How Late. I even named my Jack Russell terrier Sammy (the bold Sammy) in honour. Would like to see a debate about the comparative merits of Kelman / Welsh rather than bringing Joyce or Beckett into the argument. What a travesty of justice that one!(less)

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Feb 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very few books can make a plateaustyled plot like this one enticing. What occurs when vision is impaired from page one of "How Late it Was, How Late"? Well, the other senses are heightened of course, and this becomes an intrepid trek for the reader himself, as he mirrors exactly the plight of the newly-blinded outrageously-ambivalent protagonist who suffers under the most nefarious of circumstances. The experience is at once disorientating & ultimately fierce. Nauseating even.

With great pro
Apr 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all ye fekkin bampots
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
If you have never been to Scotland, then literature would have you believe that it is the bleakest, most soul destroying pit of blackened abject despair. The cities are populated with grey-skinned downtrodden gurners whose only options are alcoholism, drugs or suicide. The rivers Clyde, Forth and Tay are not filled with water, nay, they are filled with the salty tears of Rangers Fans, beaten housewives, victims of police violence and neglected children. Did Hadrian build his wall in 122 AD as a ...more
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Waiting rooms. Ye go into this room where ye wait. Hoping’s the same. One of these days the cunts’ll build entire fucking buildings just for that. Official hoping rooms, where ye just go in and hope for whatever the fuck ye feel like hoping for. One on every corner. Course they had them already – boozers. Ye go in to hope and they sell ye a drink to help pass the time. Ye see these cunts sitting there. What’re they there for? They’re hoping. They’re hoping for something. The telly’s rotten. So ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Feb 20, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2008-2012); Booker Winner
Shelves: 1001-core, booker
A difficult read not because the narration is told via stream-of-consciousness of a 38-year old drunkard and ex-convict but because the language is that of a working-class Scottish dialect that I am not familiar with. I have no problem with difficult reads as I have read and liked the works of James Joyce and Samuel Beckett but they are written beautifully unlike this book of Kelman whose supposedly humor totally missed my funny bones.

The one that saved this book from getting 1-star rating for m
Sean Wilson
Apr 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"People try to stop ye, stop ye doing things. They dont allow ye to live. But ye've got to live. If ye cannay live ye're as well dead. What else can ye do? It would be good if somebody telt ye. What way ye were supposed to live. They dont fucking tell ye that but they've got nay answers there man, no to that yin, that fucking question, know what I'm saying, it's just big silences, that's what ye fucking get, big silences. How no to live. That's all they tell ye. Fuck them all... It's you. They d ...more
Allan MacDonell
Dec 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
"Nay point in hoping for the best," says Glasgow, Scotland's bold and blinded Sammy early on in How Late It Was, How Late. It's hard-won advice, and given with the highest of intentions.

Don't be daunted by the accent. Don't be put off because the entire book takes place inside the mind of a solitary drinking man whose eyesight has been beaten right out of his head—while in police custody.

And where is that formerly loyal girlfriend? Has she scampered, finally, or is she buried somewhere just beyo
Oct 24, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: someone I didn't like
I think this is the worst book I've ever read to completion. First of all, it's a stream of conciousness novel written in working-class Scottish dialect. Secondly, there was no ultimate payoff for my having to struggle through the frustrating narrative style. I want those hours of my life back!
Karlo Mikhail
Aug 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
I was pleasantly surprised to find out how readable the novel is given a considerable number of complaints about its purportedly indecipherable language and use of stream of consciousness as a narrative technique. In fact, the use of the language of the Scottish working classes did not at all hinder the gripping buildup of this dark tale of oppression as experienced by the novel's protagonist, Sammy. He is victimized by police brutality and weighed down by the more grueling instances of day to d ...more
Dec 06, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: European book committees
Allright Booker Prize. We're done. You have proven, time and time again, that either you have terrible tastes or I am a total philistine. How late it was is the newest entry into your proud history of Texan timewasters.

Here's what's cool about the book. Scottish working class guy picks a fight with the cops, gets beatdown, goes blind. The parts where he gets out of jail in his hometown and has to find his way back to his apartment is awesome. The part where he deals with government bureaucracy i
Sep 22, 2008 rated it it was ok
So a few years ago, after I read a blue streak through God of Small Things, Midnight’s Children, Amsterdam, Remains of the Day, Possession, The Blind Assassin – they are all amazing – I decided that I would read every past Booker Prize winner (apparently I am unhappy unless doing something that can eventually crossed off a list.) And although we’ve had some good times – I mean, wow, I would never have thought The English Patient worth reading – my current stance is, Booker Prize, can we talk? La ...more
the gift
somebody does not like this book, not me, i love it. the steady, crazy, profane, beautiful voice of sammy never relents, never pauses, and this is one seriously fast read. this blind man’s vision of the world from the disenfranchised, drinking, rousting, lower class- but vibrant and alive- is a voice to hear. i read this over and over, trying to get the full effect in strong doses. i have read stream of consciousness before, read modernist works built of unbroken voice, but never enjoyed, never ...more
Becky Douglas
Jul 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
How Late it Was, How Late is about a Glaswegian man who, having gone out and got drunk and ended up getting a beating from the police, wakes up in a police cell to discover that he's gone blind. It's written entirely in the Scots dialect and in a stream of consciousness style with no breaks for different chapters. It's mostly first person, as told by the unfortunate Glaswegian, Sammy, but Sammy gets confused and sometimes switches to third person. It could not be praised for its readability.

Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
I started out with 4 stars..I loved the language and the stream of consciousness style of writing, it really intrigued me and I enjoyed reading the story. I was whizzing through it so I guess I have to give Kelman credit for that..

..I couldn't wait to find out what actually happened on the Saturday night, what happened to Helen, I swore he must have killed her in a violent episode and he had become so traumatized he had mentally broken down..or something to that affect. I was desperate to know w
Alan Wilson
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There seems to be a lot of reviewers who see Sammy Samuels as an unlikeable inebriate and the impression that suggests to me is the main character of How Late staggering around like some pathetic wineo throughout the whole story. That is just so wrong. I found Sammy entirely likeable, and why not. He is not a whinger by any means, he hardly has a drink during the whole story (okay, he starts out severely hung-over), he accepts full responsibility for his problems, even being beaten so excessivel ...more
القراءة الاولي غير المكتملة ل جيمس كيلمان ..
أو صمويل بيكيت الجديد كما يقولون عنه ..
ربما هم علي حق .. ولكنها أنا من لم تتحمل الرواية !!
اعقد أن الأمر يعود لطبيعتي التي لا تتحمل وصف العذاب أو الدماء وماشابه من الأمور التي اكتظت بها الرواية حتي اخذت أسوأ قرار يصاحبني في القراءة بأن أتوقف قبل أن أكملها.. فلم أعد أحتمل ..

عذراً كيلمان لقد حاولت كثيراً ولم استطع !
ربما يعود الأمر لبراعة الوصف للدرجة التي جعلتني لا أكمل القراءة ..
ولكن حقا كان العذاب مجسداً أمامي بمعني الكلمة ..
Nov 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: booker-winners
Have you ever met a Glaswegian who wasn't complaining? "The weather's shite, sob sob, the sodjers beat me, boo hoo, the gers lost again, wah wah, I've gone blind." I was 35 pages in and I flicked to the back to check how many pages there are because, seriously, how long can you write stream-of-consciousness Scottish dialect about a guy who's gone blind? 380 pages, apparently. But nah it picks up, you get to love the guy, he's adorable.
Jan 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
HOW LATE IT WAS, HOW LATE. (1994; U.S. Ed. 1995). James Kelman. ****.
I had not heard of either this author or this novel before a firend recommended it to me. Turns out that it was the winner of the Booker Prize in 1994, but never managed to become a notable seller on the book market. There are obvious reasons for this. The novel is written in what is, presumably, lower-class Scottish dialect. At first, I was turned off by it, but eventually it began to flow without my minding it so much. The a
Irina Podgurskaya
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
how late it was, how late - крутаническое название, а? вот я и повелась.
автора покусал буковски, автор покусал уэлша, и в общем, это годный со всех сторон роман про парня из шотландской преисподней, и написан хорошо, и персонажи вызывают сочувствие (это мой личный бзик), - но я лично расстроена щедро разросшимися предполагаемыми сюжетными ходами, которые в итоге, когда ты уже втянулся и заинтересовался по-настоящему, всем пучком взяли и отрезали под корень. тоже, конечно, приемчик - ходи теперь
Written in the Glaswegian vernacular, this Booker Prize winning novel follows Sammy in a stream of consciousness first person narration of his chaotic life. Following an alcoholic binge “lost weekend” culminating in a beating, Sammy is left blind. Stumbling around in the shell of his life he tries to piece together the events that led up to his condition, and how to cope with the future in his own way. At times hopeless, sometimes indomitable, he accepts the disability like a man habituated to m ...more
Jun 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: David Convery
This book is good for those who liked the stream of consciousness style of 'Ulysses' and 'Trainspotting'. Whereas Joyce's characters were mostly lower middle class the main character in this is a Glaswegian ex-prisoner whos thought processes on life in and out of prison we are privy to. There are no allusions to art, academia or philosophy but through allusions to cheesey country and western songs and various radio programmes the character listens to contributes to the authentic feel of the sett ...more
Jan 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Kelman is one of the most important prose and narrative stylists of the last 50 years and is maybe the biggest innovator in stream of conscious narrative since Joyce. Highly recommend. Another good one to start with is his short story collection "Busted Scotch."

Mara Eastern
Feb 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: glasgow, fiction
Bleak, Kafkaesque and bizarre. It deserves the Booker Prize that it won.
Jul 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
Kelman's best (so far). It's a feckin masterpiece.
Aug 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1001-list-books
How Late it Was, How Late is the story of a man in Glasgow who's story begins after a massive lost weekend. We're never really sure if it's drink related actual loss, or if Samuels is craftier than he seems and hiding the truth from us. It's a difficult one to rate, as while I really enjoyed reading it, the narrative is so wandering and muddled that it's difficult to get truly gripped. But at this same time, this scrappy style is the real delight of the novel - it's a bit of a mystery to me that ...more
Sep 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-twice
I just read this novel for the second time and enjoyed it a lot. The first Kelman book I read was A Dissafection, back when I was on my year abroad in Odessa in 1995. Upon my return I got How Late it Was, How Late and liked it a little better.

The novel is written in the Glasgow dialect, which is very close to the Ayrshire dialect that I grew up with. It's partly the poetry of that language that really appeals to me. Having studied linguistics and socio-linguistics probably makes the book more ap
Michael Jarvis
Jun 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. Not easy, but once you find the level, once you sink into the narrator's head and hear his voice, once you process the working class Scottish dialect and understand his way of speaking and thinking, once you feel his struggle and stumble along with him, once you witness his unrelenting, grappling, never-say-die attitude, you will believe. Sammy wins our admiration despite gargantuan odds against him, despite the crappy hand he's been dealt and his own immense failure in playing it any ...more
Ray Hartley
Jul 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written in Glaswegian English and shot through with more profanity than a Gordon Ramsey restaurant inspection, this book tells the story of Sammy, itinerant fence and odd-jober who has done time and seen it all. What makes it brilliant is the fact that Sammy loses his sight after a beating by the police and then has to find his way around Glasgow's social welfare offices and bars while figuring out just how much trouble he is in over a "lost Saturday" spent drinking and doing ... what exactly no ...more
Dec 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scotland
Caused controversy when it won the Booker. The sniffy reviews caused Kelman problems later on when looking for publishing deals. A rare case of winning the Booker closing doors for a writer. It opened doors for other writers though. This is brilliant. To manage the first thirty pages is impressive, to write the entire novel in faultless, poetic, realistic, crude, funny, genuine language is an immense achievement.

What did the gripers want from a novel? Storyline - gripping; characterisation - sup
A lot of reviewers focus on the vernacular used to write this, but as a fan of Irvine Welsh it was easy to read.

I first read this when it came out, being virtuous and reading the latest Booker prize winner. I was too young to really grasp any of it, and it felt more like style over substance.

Re-reading it now, it still feels a little like that, but I can appreciate it more, and don't need to have such certainty of story any more. This book will leave you with more questions than answers, but the
Mar 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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Kelman says:

My own background is as normal or abnormal as anyone else's. Born and bred in Govan and Drumchapel, inner city tenement to the housing scheme homeland on the outer reaches of the city. Four brothers, my mother a full time parent, my father in the picture framemaking and gilding trade, trying to operate a one man business and I left school at 15 etc. etc. (...) For one reason or anothe
More about James Kelman...
“Ye wake in a corner and stay there hoping yer body will disappear, the thoughts smothering ye; these thoughts; but ye want to remember and face up to things, just something keeps ye from doing it, why can't ye no do it; the words filling yer head: then the other words; there's something wrong; there's something far far wrong; ye're no a good man, ye're just no a good man. Edging back into awareness, of where ye are: here, slumped in this corner, with these thoughts filling ye. And oh christ his back was sore; stiff, and the head pounding. He shivered and hunched up his shoulders, shut his eyes, rubbed into the corners with his fingertips; seeing all kinds of spots and lights. Where in the name of fuck...” 5 likes
“Funny how ye tell people a story to make a point and ye fail, ye fail, a total disaster. Not only do ye no make yer point it winds up the exact fucking opposite man, the exact fucking opposite. That isnay a misunderstanding it's a total
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