October 29th, 2007


Sorry about that lull in there, apparently I had things to do other than blog last week, though honestly, in retrospect, I can’t imagine what. Long lost friends (Chrissy Nogo makes a guess appearance!), quality coffee (like cinnamon), Hallowe’en adventures (caramel everywhere!), new friends, scones (courtesy of Kerry—I guess I wasn’t bored. Oh, of course I’ve been writing. And reading, lots of reading.

I just started James Kelman’s How Late It Was, How Late, which is less like a poem than you’d think from the title. I’m not far in, but so far it’s pretty gritty and funny and dark, and written in the decidedly unpoetic Scottish lower-class vernacular. It really is almost like a another language. I don’t have terrible trouble with it, partly due to my years-ago allegiance to the writing of Irvine Walsh (first I watched Trainspotting dubbed into French, then dubbed into Anglocized English, finally in the original Scottish English. Then I read the book a couple times, then I saw the play. All of these experiences were brilliant, but entirely different.) Also, I live alone, so when the dialect gets particularly challenging I can always read aloud, which clarifies most things.

Still, I’m much slower with this book than most. Even when I understand what’s going on, the words do make you stop and think. For example, you can easily glean in context that Kelman’s characters use the word “weans” to mean “little kids.” But what could the etymology of such a word be? I’ve come up with two hypothoses: a) it’s a slang contraction “wee ones,” or b) it refers to the verb, “to wean,” to accustom a child to food other than (breast) milk… Anybody know?

I wonder, too, does such concentration on constituent parts of the story take a reader out of the heart of the matter?

All the lies in the book

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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