If It Is Your Life

Publication Date: Jul 15, 2014

288 pp

Trade Paperback

List Price US $15.95
Trim Size (H x W): 5.5 x 8.25
ISBN: 9781590516225


List Price US $15.95
ISBN: 9781590516232

A collection of short stories by the Booker Prize-winning Scottish master

Giving voice to the dispossessed and crafting stories of lives held in the balance, James Kelman reaches us all. Penetrating deeply into the hearts, minds, and desperation of characters who find themselves in everyday situations—in the hospital, at a bus stop, in a living room with the endless roar of the vacuum cleaner and a distant wife—Kelman follows their streams of consciousness and brings their worries to life. With honesty and dark humor, he confronts the issues of language, class, politics, gender, and age—identity in all its forms.

Excerpt from If It Is Your Life

Bangs & a Full Moon
A fine Full Moon from the third storey through the red reflection from the city lights: this was the view. I gazed at it, lying outstretched on the bed-settee. I was thinking arrogant thoughts of that, Full Moons, and all those awful fucking writers who present nice images in the presupposition of universal fellowship under the western Stars when all of a sudden: BANG, an object hurtling out through the window facing mine across the street.

The windows on this side had been in total blackness; the building was soon to be demolished and formally uninhabited.

BANG. An object hurtled through another window. No lights came on. Nothing could be seen. Nobody was heard. Down below the street was deserted; broken glass glinted. I returned to the bed-settee and when I had rolled the smoke, found I already had one smouldering in the ashtray. I got back up again and closed the curtains. I was writing in pen & ink so not to waken the kids and wife with the banging of this machine I am now using.

“Kelman’s language is immediately exciting; like a musician, he uses repetition and rhythm to build structures out of short flights and circular meanderings. The working-class Glaswegian author knows exactly how his words will scathe delicate skins; he has a fine sense of attack.” —The New Yorker

“Feisty and poetic.” —The Boston Globe

“A set of strange tales that both frustrate and delight…[Kelman] is certainly more experimental, as this…collection shows, and he’s also a lot funnier. As well as being a keen observer of society’s underclasses and disenfranchised, Kelman also has a great eye for the absurdity of everyday life, something which comes to the fore in this collection…His impeccable command of language continues to make him an easy writer to admire.” —The Independent

“As always, [Kelman’s] at his best when transforming a fairly narrow spectrum of underclass experience into something uniquely pitched between Beckett and vernacular realism.” —The Guardian

“A masterful composer, Kelman makes writing look easy, and then infuses it with a sense of gravitas that can be, at times, breathtaking, in his own modest way.”  —Booklist (starred review)

“This stuff is bloody brutal, and absolutely perfect.” —New City Lit

“In Kelman’s hands, words are deployed so seemingly realistically but, of course, so artfully, they feel closer to reality than hard truth. This collection is teeming with life, and with death, or worse, and, as the title indicates, it is our lives he is writing about, ours all. It is a tour de force from a writer who treats language as carefully as if it were gold, and ends up turning it into something even more precious.” —The Herald (Scotland)