Kelman is undoubtedly one of those authors that strobes in and out of view every decade or so. His few published works are seemingly greeted with mild interest, a blaze of reviews then public silence. With a new book out this year, his earlier novels have been redesigned and reissued, seemingly garnering more interest than the new work they're trying to promote.
It's a first slice of Kelman for me. I opted to shy away from Booker winner 'How late it was, how late' and start at the very beginning. I'm glad I did - I had no preconceptions when starting 'The Busconducter Hines' and expected nothing from it, and what I found was a wonderful slice of life at a particular social-economic time. It's a book essentially about hope and failure, of trying to attain but not finding the desire there. Of falling into circumstance and staying there. Frustratingly the book doesn't really resolve the plot, but that is a deliberate reflection of Kelman's message - at the end, Hines is still in the same situation, still resolved to change but still working the buses.
The only criticism (and the relatively low rating) is due to its meandering plot. It never feels fully set in place and as a result tends to be something of a struggle to read. The message of the story has been told before - and better - but it is still a very enjoyable book in itself....Continua