Lost in a language I recognize.

by brooksbrendan

Brendan Brooks

James Kelman is not fore the lover of fine whine of foreign operas. This is not to say that there is no weight or depth to Kelmans work. Kelman is not writing to pander to the masses he is writing as the masses. Kelman is telling the story of the everyday with a twist both in protagonist and language. Sammy is our everyman, or perhaps a little lower. After a drunken night of missing shoes he finds himself beat up by police officers and subsequently rendered blind. From that point we work with him through disability, bureaucracy and suspicion. As we walk this road with him it becomes increasingly obvious that it is not a road to redemption, nor is it a road to salvation, it is simply a road like any other human confusing and highly flawed. The real story is in the language Kelman chooses to use. Kelman set out to use his native dialect in a way it is rarely presented. In what is a slap in the face to the Oxford English Dictionary Kelman has us navigating our way through every run on sentence and spliced together word. As a Canadian I took great pleasure in the escape from “traditional” literary language. Confusing language is something typically reserved for train spotters or boxing caravan seeking gypsies, yet here it is present in the form of a contemporary literary work. The best part is not the story of Sammy but the sheer enjoyment of getting confused in a language resembling our own. Hidden in there is Kelmans message about the established literary community and an attempt to address a genre that is missing but sometimes it is just more enjoyably to get lost in the mental ramblings of Sammy Samuels.

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