Swing Hammer Swing!

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9780151874279: Swing Hammer Swing!

An "energetic, irreverent and very funny" (New York Times Book Review) first novel set in Glasgow during a single week in the late sixties. Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, called it "a rich Scotch broth of language, steaming with metaphor...and pungent dialect." Winner of Britain's Whitbread Book of the Year Award.

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About the Author:

Jeff Torrington (31 December 1935 – 11 May 2008) was a novelist from Glasgow in Scotland. His novels draw on the changing face of modern Scotland. Swing Hammer Swing (1992) was situated in the demolition of the old Gorbals and The Devil's Carousel (1998) drew on the decline of a fictionalized version of the Rootes/Chrysler car plant at Linwood. Swing Hammer Swing was Whitbread Book of the Year in 1992.

From Kirkus Reviews:

This close examination of a week in one man's life in Glasgow, Scotland, is both exhilarating and exasperating. Torrington, who toiled on this first novel (the 1992 Whitbread winner) for thirty years, has shaped passage after passage of beautiful prose but failed to hang them on a substantial plot. Thomas Clay is in limbo. His pregnant wife, Rhona, has been hospitalized with high blood pressure, and when he remembers to visit her, it is usually with a lame excuse for his lateness. While they are waiting to hear about a house in a new part of town, Rhona's Uncle Billy wants Thomas to take a job as a packer in his banana warehouse. These are mere details, however. The real focus of the book is Thomas' wonderful first-person voice and its verbal gymnastics. With an ear for ridiculous dialogue, Torrington captures the different tones used between spouses, friends, in- laws, and lovers. When Thomas attempts to kiss Rhona goodbye after a hospital visit, she raises her hand and rebukes him, saying, ``your breath would melt iron!'' When Rhona's genteel sister Phyllis introduces him to a family friend, Thomas reports that she ``flicked a tentacle to indicate to her visitor that I (audible sigh) was her brother-in-law, Tom Clay.'' There is also plenty of Scottish slang and enough wordplay to satisfy even the biggest James Joyce fans. When he becomes anxious about time, Thomas fears turning into ``a gigantic clockroach,'' and when a petty crime has been committed, he considers, then decides against, calling the police, because there'd ``be no use telling even the dimmest of Defective Constables.'' Difficult but rewarding fiction. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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