Synopses & Reviews
James Kelman, the Man Booker Prize–winning author of How Late It Was, How Late, tells the story of Helen—a sister, a mother, a daughter—a very ordinary young woman. Her boyfriend said she was quirky but she is much more than that. Trust, love, relationships; parents, children, lovers; death, wealth, home: these are the ordinary parts of the everyday that become extraordinary when you think of them as Helen does, each waking hour. Mo Said She Was Quirky begins on Helen’s way home from work, with the strangest of moments when a skinny, down-at-heel man crosses the road in front of her and appears to be her lost brother. What follows is an inspired and absorbing story of twenty-four hours in the life of a young woman.
"A daylong glimpse into the life of a London blackjack croupier, Kelman's latest novel slides easily between scene and free indirect rumination, combining ambitious psychological breadth with the necessary authorial restraint to fully inhabit the mind of Helen. Her musings are first triggered during an early-morning taxi ride when she sees a man who resembles her long-missing brother, Brian. Kelman's streaming prose depicts a typical day for Helen her anxious thoughts about raising a six-year-old daughter Sophie, or the joys and complications of living with Mo, her Pakistani boyfriend reflections inspired by idle moments spent gazing at old pictures, riding to work, or waiting for her clothes to dry. It is sometimes a frenetic place to be, as Kelman often shuns punctuation in favor of velocity. Helen tortures herself with unresolved memories, trying to reconcile a past that, with the death of her father and absence of her brother, can never be settled. Often, her cadence runs on like a mantra as she attempts to convince herself: 'It happens in families; girl father, boy mother, it is so natural, a natural division, her and Dad, him and Mum; that is it, it is natural...' In the fleeting scenes that actively involve other characters, Kelman (How Late It Was, How Late) also knows how to draw back to near-omniscience, allowing Helen to observe along with the reader. Although sometimes labored, her deft observations are worth a close study. Agent: Melanie Jackson, Melanie Jackson Agency. (Apr. 23)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
James Kelman was born in Glasgow in 1946, left school at the earliest opportunity, and began working life in a factory aged 15. Emigrated with his family to California in 1963, returned to Scotland 1964. Kelman has worked at a variety of jobs ever since. He began writing while living in London aged twenty two and later met Texan writer Mary Gray Hughes. With her support his debut story collection, An Old Pub Near The Angel was published by Puckerbrush Press, Maine, in 1973. His fourth novel, How Late It Was, How Late, won the Booker Prize in 1994. His recent publications include story collections Busted Scotch and If it is your life; and novels, You have to be careful in the Land of the Free, Translated Accounts, and Kieron Smith, boy. Kelman has taught at the University of Texas in Austin, and San José State University, California. He and his wife live in Scotland, not far from their two daughters and two grandchildren.