Busted Scotch: Selected Stories

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9780393040722: Busted Scotch: Selected Stories

Busted Scotch is a selection by James Kelman of 35 short stories -- most of them published in this country for the first time -- from over two decades of his work. They reveal the author as a tough-minded master of the short form, which he infuses with his unique brand of bleak comedy and his absolute belief in the primacy of his character's language and culture.

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Review:

The stories in James Kelman's collection, Busted Scotch are as bleak as a Scottish winter. Kelman's characters are working class people--mostly men, mostly inarticulate--whose dead-end existences are relentlessly dark. Fortunately, the reader, if not the characters, is rescued from this lunarscape vision by bracing doses of Kelman's black humor and impressive prose. Sometimes, as in "Nice to be Nice," the prose is rendered in a thick Scots dialect that might confound readers outside of the U.K. Most stories, however, are more accessible linguistically, though liberally laced with obscenities. Kelman does not concentrate his energies on character development or even on action; nothing much happens in many of these stories, yet everything changes. In "Pictures," a man notices a woman in a movie theater, buys her coffee, begins to wonder if she's a prostitute. These tiny, uneventful occurrences lead to the revelation of an unresolved trauma in the man's own life. In "A Nightboilerman's Notes," the narrator achieves a strange kind of transcendence simply contemplating the darkness in the bowels of a factory.

Kelman, who won Britain's prestigious Booker Prize in 1994 for his novel How Late It Was, How Late, has selected the 35 stories in Busted Scotch from more than 20 years' work. Many of these stories make their American debut in this collection.

About the Author:

James Kelman's previous books include the novels The Busconductor Hines and A Disaffection and the short-story collections Not, not while the giro, Greyhound for Breakfast, and The Burn. He lives in Glasgow.

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