The Good Times

The Good Times

by James Kelman
     
 

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The twenty first-person narratives in The Good Times portray ordinary people in a language that makes a glory of their lives. The narrators are men and boys who come face-to-face with uncomfortable truths, whether musing on mortality, encountering betrayals both devastating and trivial, or struggling to understand women or work.  See more details below

Overview

The twenty first-person narratives in The Good Times portray ordinary people in a language that makes a glory of their lives. The narrators are men and boys who come face-to-face with uncomfortable truths, whether musing on mortality, encountering betrayals both devastating and trivial, or struggling to understand women or work.

Editorial Reviews

David L. Ulin
...[The] tories here map the quietly desperate landscape of working-class Scotland, where money is scarce and employment scarcer, and where the world is bounded equally by longing and regret....[T]he book does achieve its own odd unity, as certain subjects — lost romance, the idea of somehow leaving behind a trace of oneself — recur with the subtlety of musical themes.
The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
FYI: Kelman was the co-winner of the Stakis Prize for Scottish Writer of the Year for The Good Times. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This is Scottish writer Kelman's first new work since his Booker Prize-winning novel How Late It Was, How Late. The collection features 20 stories, all narrated by male voices and all exploring what it means to be relied upon as a boy or a man--how societal expectations of male roles shape behavior. Kelman writes with a coarse authenticity, exposing with raw honesty the bleak domestic lives and rough edges of so many of his working-class men. As with any writing that captures a regional vernacular so completely, it takes some pages for the reader's eyes and ears to adjust to the voices in this collection, and Kelman's extensive use of profanity may not appeal to all readers. Recommended where interest warrants.--Caroline M. Hallsworth, Cambrian Coll. Lib., Sudbury, Ont. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The edgy, eerily precise worldview reflected in Kelman's Booker Prize�winning How late it was, how late, and other work, most recently Busted Scotch (1997), remains grim and brilliantly undimmed in this group of 20 tales. Kelman's stories feature the Scottish working class, in which miscues are common and evidence of real understanding—of oneself or of others—is rare. In the opening situation, "Joe laughed," a young daredevil, roof climber, and soccer player without peer ruminates on a friend's recent betrayal while hanging with his arms hooked on a window in a crumbling dockland building, overlooking a particularly dangerous roof pitch. The theme of existential disconnect continues in stories such as "pulped sandwiches," where idle lunchtime conversation between construction workers touches on the topic of death and triggers in one a blind rage. In "I was asking a question too," a man fond of copying words of wisdom from books he reads, sticking them up all over his apartment walls, considers his inability to talk with his single neighbor or anyone else. "Every fucking time" takes place in a pub, where a middle-aged man waits to rendezvous with his wife, with barely enough money to buy himself a drink, while engaging in a conversation he despises with two brothers he's known almost all his life; his wife never shows, leaving him to act alone. "Comic cuts," the longest story, offers some hope that not all communication is misdirected: two men conspire to bamboozle a third with abstract discourse after a hard night, while they wait in the wee hours of a winter morning for some soup to heat and their mate to wake from his slumber on the kitchen floor—but the soup neverappears. The brief title piece, based on a nightmare, serves as a fitting finale. Bleak, almost surreal stuff, sure enough, but every fragmented encounter or stark monologue here contains a nugget of hard-earned, bitter truth.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385495806
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/15/1999
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author

James Kelman was born in Glasgow in 1946. After leaving school at 15 he worked in the printing industry and as a bus driver. In 1971 he attended creative writing night classes and in 1973 an American company published his first collection of short stories, An Old Pub Near the Angel. Greyhound for Breakfast won the 1987 Cheltenham Prize; A Disaffection won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize; How Late It Was, How Late won the 1994 Booker Prize amidst a storm of controversy. He has also written many plays for stage and radio. He lives in Glasgow with his wife and family.

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