- Greyhound for Breakfast by James Kelman
Secker, 230 pp, £10.95, March 1987, ISBN 0 436 23283 9
- Pauper, Brawler and Slanderer by Amos Tutuola
Faber, 156 pp, £9.95, March 1987, ISBN 0 571 14714 3
There is a thing – call it the bastard high style – which has preoccupied some writers ever since Villon found a fruitful union in the marriage of gutter argot and the language of the Schools. In English, in this century, it has mostly been used by Irish writers: by Joyce, with Vico and scatology, by Beckett, with velleity and bananas, and by Flann O’Brien, one paragraph of whose At-Swim-Two-Birds includes both an argumentum on Rousseau and the sudden eructation of ‘buff-coloured puke’. Now there is a new practitioner, working with a different vernacular and a different elevated diction. The first of the 47 fictions in James Kelman’s Greyhound for Breakfast finds old Francis on a park bench in Glasgow, menaced by vaguely circling winos trying to cadge a cigarette.