Simon A. Smith's Reviews > How Late it Was, How Late

How Late it Was, How Late by James Kelman
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's review
Feb 26, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: novels-after-1980

I liked this book, but stopped just short of loving it. Despite the fact that the story is a rather savage, violent one, the pace is a bit slow, dreamy and repetitive. For example, it takes the main character, Sammy, about twenty pages to make it from the bus to his apartment. Then, later, it takes ten pages for him to have a tediously circular conversation with a lawyer that pretty much ends right where it began.

Also, not much ever gets resolved or revealed. I kept hoping that I'd find out something about his girlfriend who went missing or maybe be introduced to one of his partners in crime, but that all was withheld in favor of staying inside Sammy's demon filled world/head.

I did give this four stars though, after all, right? I liked Sammy. Especially during the final pages where the reader gets to see him with his son, he becomes a sort of lovable loser worth rooting for. There are moments that will stick with me, and Kelman's voice and style are alluring. I also think it stacks up pretty well against other raucous, boozy books. I'd put it a notch or two above "Trainspotting" and I'd put it far clear of Donleavy's "The Ginger Man." I could see it making a pretty good movie...

P.S. If you aren't Scottish, consider boning up on your Glasgow slang before diving into this one.

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message 1: by Steven (new)

Steven I've got all of Kelman's books, so curious what you think of this one.

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