The Good Times was James Kelman’s first work after winning the Booker Prize for his novel How Late it Was, How Late. The twenty first-person narratives portray ordinary people – men and boys facing uncomfortable truths, encountering betrayal or struggling to understand women and work. Tender and lyrical, The Good Times is a dazzling collection from one of the world’s masters of the short-story form.
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 name, and his stab at disability compensation embroils him in the Kafkaesque red tape of the welfare bureaucracy. Told in the uncensored language of Glasgow, this is a dark and subtly political parable of struggle and survival, rich with irony and black humor.
James Kelman is justly celebrated as a major European novelist, short story writer, and playwright. Yet crucially his “artistry, authenticity and a voice of singular power” (Independent) flow from being an engaged writer and a cultural and political activist. In this collection of essays, polemics, and talks, Kelman directs his linguistic craftsmanship and scathing humor at the racism, class bias, and elitism of the English literary scene, the Labour Party’s establishment role, the treatment of asbestos victims, the media, and other political and cultural questions. Essays include ‘Artists and Value, ‘Some Recent Attacks on the Rights of the People,’ and ‘The Importance of Glasgow in My Work.’
The stories ‘by the burn’, ‘Lassies are trained that way’, ‘A walk in the park’, ‘Unlucky’, ‘Street-Sweeper’, and ‘it’s the ins and outs’ are included here, and are considered to be some of Kelman’s best work in short prose. Passionate, exhilarating and darkly humorous, The Burn is an extraordinary collection of short stories by an unsurpassed prose stylist.
A collection of 47 short stories which reflect the broad scope of Kelman’s writing since 1972. Ranging from casual tragedy to wild farce, from the concrete to the lyrical, the book demonstrates Kelman’s distinctive way of creating high art from his daily experience and from the people around him.
Tammas is 20, a loner and a compulsive gambler. Unable to hold a job for long, his life revolves around Glasgow bars, home with his sister and brother-in-law, the dog track, betting shops, casinos and occasionally a day at the races. Sometimes Tammas wins, more often he loses, but betting gives him as good a chance as any of discovering what he really seeks from life since society offers him no prospect of a better or more fulfilling alternative. First published by Polygon in 1985.
Living in a bedsit, just coping with the boredom of being a busconductor, and fully aware that his plans to emigrate to Australia won’t come to anything, Robert Hines is a young Glaswegian leading a pretty drab life. There are compensations, however, in his wife and child, and his eccentric, anarchic imagination. Kelman provides a brilliantly executed, uncompromising slice of Glasgow life – an intelligent, funny and humane novel. It was first published by Polygon in 1984.
Not Not While the Giro was James Kelman’s first major collection of short stories to be published in the UK, and takes the reader from the pub to the Labour Exchange, from the snooker tables to the greyhound track. Written with irony, tenderness and enormous anger, this book confirmed Kelman’s stature as one of the most important fiction writers of the times.