Excerpt from James Kelman’s HOW LATE IT WAS, HOW LATE

20140109-214031.jpgI was thinking about this book today. I haven’t read it in nearly fifteen years but the opening and closing paragraphs have stuck me with ever since. Here is the opening paragraph, complete with crazy punctuation and spelling and sudden shifts in point of view. The novel is a stunner. And the last paragraph, which I won’t print here, will knock your socks off.

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 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…

–James Kelman, How Late it Was, How Late

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