This first-person POV story shows a man waking from his dreams/nightmares. He feels like he is dying or disappearing. And indeed, he is, we all are. It's the thing we try to ignore every day. "How many times had this happened, this forcing myself out of sleep as an act of survival: to have continued enduring such sleep was to forsake life, it was to give up breathing, give up living, because I knew for certain, about these bad dreams and nightmares, that the true extension was death." Wow. That sort of says it all about the dilemma of being a human being. We have to go on living even though we know "these are the good times." It's all down hill from here. The narrator is even "fond of my physical ailments" as they are "the stuff of life."
The story reads fast and the more I tried to slow down the more it forced me to read fast. The subject matter is frantic and the story, the telling of it, feels frantic.
I hadn't read any Kelman stories yet even though I bought a used copy of his book, The Good Times, years ago. Then I read Charles E. May's blog about Kelman, so I pulled my book off the shelf. I'm always on the hunt for books I know I'll eventually read. James Kelman is Scottish and was born in 1946 and a previous winner of the Man Booker Prize.
interview with the Guardian