About this item

After his mother's recent death, sixteen-year-old Murdo and his father travel from their home in rural Scotland to Alabama to be with his émigré uncle and American aunt. Stopping at a small town on their way from the airport, Murdo happens upon a family playing zydeco music and joins them, leaving with a gift of two CDs of Southern American songs. On this first visit to the States, Murdo notices racial tension, religious fundamentalism, the threat of severe weather, guns, and aggressive behavior, all unfamiliar to him. Yet his connection to the place strengthens by way of its musical culture. Murdo may be young but he is already a musician. While at their relatives' home, the grieving father and son experience kindness and kinship but share few words of comfort with each other, Murdo losing himself in music and his reticent and protective dad in books.



About the Author

James Kelman

Kelman says: My own background is as normal or abnormal as anyone else's. Born and bred in Govan and Drumchapel, inner city tenement to the housing scheme homeland on the outer reaches of the city. Four brothers, my mother a full time parent, my father in the picture framemaking and gilding trade, trying to operate a one man business and I left school at 15 etc. etc. (...) For one reason or another, by the age of 21/22 I decided to write stories. The stories I wanted to write would derive from my own background, my own socio-cultural experience. I wanted to write as one of my own people, I wanted to write and remain a member of my own community. During the 1970s he published a first collection of short stories. He became involved in Philip Hobsbaum's creative writing group in Glasgow along with Tom Leonard, Alasdair Gray and Liz Lochhead, and his short stories began to appear in magazines. These stories introduced a distinctive style, expressing first person internal monologues in a pared-down prose utilising Glaswegian speech patterns, though avoiding for the most part the quasi-phonetic rendition of Tom Leonard. Kelman's developing style has been influential on the succeeding generation of Scottish novelists, including Irvine Welsh, Alan Warner and Janice Galloway. In 1998, Kelman received the Stakis Prize for "Scottish Writer of the Year" for his collection of short stories 'The Good Times. '



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