You Have To Be Careful in the Land of the Free by James Kelman - review by Miranda France

Miranda France

Drinking in the USA

You Have To Be Careful in the Land of the Free


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AT EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY, from the 1960s until 1988, there was a publishing house run by students, unique in Britain. Polygon - which is no longer in amateur hands - was responsible for discovering some of the great names of Scottish literature - Liz Lochhead, Janice Galloway and A L Kennedy among them. At our Wednesday afternoon editorial meetings, we pallid twenty-year-olds pondered the merits of Alexander Trocchi and D M Black, before repairing to the Union bar to drink subsidized beer.

The name that was spoken with most reverence, in both boardroom and bar, was that of James Kelman. His first collection of stories was published by Polygon in 1983 and the vitality and originality of his style were immediately obvious. Kelman writes about working class Glaswegians, in their own voices.


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