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?
tv Jenny Lee may have left, but Miranda Hart and the rest of the midwives deliver the goods
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 3 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 4 Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting
- 5 Man hospitalised with pneumonia after downing eggnog at office Christmas party
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader