How Late It Was, How Late

How Late it Was, How LateHow late my posts are getting published here. Indeed, how late. In order to remedy the increasing irregularity of my postings, I will resort to simply putting out brief impressions of some of the recent books I read.

One of the stunning novels I’ve read lately (as the title suggests) is James Kelman’s How Late It Was, How Late.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out how readable Kelman’s novel is given a considerable number of complaints about its utilization of the stream of consciousness as a narrative technique coupled with the purportedly indecipherable language of the Scottish working classes.

In fact, the use of the language of the Scottish proletariat did not at all hinder the gripping buildup of this dark tale of oppression as experienced by the novel’s protagonist, Sammy.

If anything, it helps capture his feelings as he is victimized by police brutality and weighed down by the more grueling instances of day to day structural violence that takes on Kafkaesque proportions with every passing page.

This is a striking contrast to similarly plotted ‘absurdist’ or ‘postmodern’ fiction (I am thinking of Beckett or Auster) that frames dark and seemingly inexplicable episodes afflicting the protagonist purely within the ‘symbolic order’ or the ‘prison house of language.’

While it takes time to piece the bits and pieces together in Kelman’s novel, the crux of the matter can clearly be contextualized to social and political conditions. And amidst the gloominess that pervades the entire novel, it still manages to end on an optimistic note: open-ended but hopeful.

I highly recommend How Late it Was, How Late.


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