BOOKS / Second thoughts: A pleasure to look back at anger: James Kelman is surprised to see the new edition of The Busconductor Hines (Phoenix pounds 4.99)
Saturday 05 December 1992
All in all it's earned me about pounds 2,000. I heard rumours of the new paperback edition months ago but I've had no communication from the publishers. The first I knew of its existence was a couple of weeks back while doing a reading in Ross and Cromarty. Somebody asked me to sign a copy. It was interesting to see the new cover design and blurb. I borrowed it and read a section to the audience, altering words and phrasing as I went.
I make a couple of technical moves within Hines, what might be termed 'narrative transitions'. These allowed certain formal freedoms. As a result the final version of A Chancer became more difficult to complete but I was able to utilise the freedoms within A Disaffection.
Once published a novel is a property that belongs to somebody else. There is a sense in which the three novels remain 'mine' but overall I accept that I don't own the products. Contracts get signed freely and that's that. Legally the novel's future is none of the author's business: from reviews and criticism to cover designs and reissued paperbacks, translations; whatever.
It's best to disassociate yourself. I seem to recall the chairperson of the 1984 Booker Prize selection panel complaining that Hines wasn't even written in English; he coupled it with one by Martin Amis, the two worst novels of the year. It meant very little to me then and the same goes now. Writers learn to cope with the 'uncalled for'. My first book - of short stories - was published in 1973 so I regard myself as fairly experienced. The work in progress is all that matters and you can't allow it to suffer. The only folk to benefit there are shareholders and employees of the alcohol, drug and medical industries.
I can't read my novels in book form, except in preparation for public readings. But I'm fond of The Busconductor Hines, pleased it's back in print. When I read from it in Ross and Cromarty I was reminded of how angry a novel it is; also, that I had managed to render this anger coherent. What more can you ask?
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Michelle Rodriguez: Fast & Furious actor apologises after telling 'minorities' to stop taking on 'white' roles
- 2 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face the death penalty
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Robert Mugabe eats a zoo for 'obscene' 91st birthday party
- 5 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
Broadchurch series 3: David Tennant and Olivia Colman to return for third season, ITV confirms
EastEnders may bring transgender character to Albert Square to challenge 'traditional' viewers
Eurovision 2015: Finnish punk band with learning disabilities applies to raise awareness
Drake matches The Beatles' record with 14 singles in top 100 chart at the same time
James Bond: Director Sam Mendes teases clips from upcoming 007 film Spectre
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'