A JAMES Kelman “I”, inevitably male (although women surround him), is still angry. “My world was composed of fights; battles, quarrels, rows and arguments: wars. Aw man. One wearied, one wearied.”

No, not really. That weariness will pass. This is a book with plenty of ire. What else is there? “The state of passivity gets you nowhere, that is inaction, the state of do-nothing.”

Protest and rebellion is in the DNA of these narrators. “Lying down is the same as dying. If ye don’t get angry ye would be as well dead.”

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Out-thereness is the problem. “Life has the habit of booting one in the testes. Anything might happen.”

Not “happen” perhaps in the sense one expects from that word on the cover, “Stories”. Little occurs of a dramatic nature. This is by and large fiction as a train of thought. Seething, raging thought that often teeters on the edge of, well, what might end up with you being sectioned. Not surprisingly, since the world operates by a system of injustices, and it is the duty of a right-thinking person to think the thoughts and sound a voice: “… Subways are for going to work and other places of confinement. Everything’s controlled. The cops and politicians have it sewn up. Just like the rest of society.” But the Kelman man – the KelMAN – also strives to be truthful, however those around him may respond to that. “People are different. Some are stubborn; others have big hands, some walk in sandals, others in their bare feet. I apply honesty in my dealings. Others don’t. I desire it on the personal level and in every level too, of human engagement, levels of it, it is level.”

While the Kelman man is suspicious of others of his gender, and with good cause, he believes in community. This Has No Title takes place on a bus – in as much as anything truly does take place (yet everything does, by another reading: the passengers living, clinging on – another story title — and getting by).

“People dump their bags and their coats on the spare seat next to them to stop folk sitting down, in case their bodies ‘touch’. I make space for them. I like to see them there and think alongside with them. They make thoughts go in a different way. So we are in the world together.”

How to keep going? That’s the Aah. At his purest, a Kelman man places his faith – and the health of the community – in the individual life. “The qualities of humanity identify us and one difficult truth is how those too might disappear. Not forever. Not necessarily. It is true that for some persons they do. They never return, they are wrecks. We see them beached.”

As good as dead, in other words.

He worries for children. At a certain point they will lose their own “physicality”, their lack of concern beyond immediate needs and sensations, when they have to learn the skills of fitting in. Then they must start to judge, and to be judged. One of the many fathers lives in dread of the time when his daughter will see through him, past an anger that will seem to have been ineffectual, to his “lies”. There is no other way, this is how the line continues. “The girl would learn about suits of armour, forms of irony, levels of ambiguity, in other words self-deceit.”

James Kelman has evolved his own recognisable world. The prose may seem artless, but the mistake would-be writers make is to try to copy only the macho outer form of it (minus the ineffable lyricism).

It’s not intended to be to everyone’s taste. I’m sitting here in a suburb dismissed as consisting of “middle-class c**ts”, which irks me just a little. There’s a knee-jerk element to many of the pronouncements by these narrators, but that one can connect to the notion of personal honesty – the word “shiver” occurs every so often, referring to an uncontrollable reflex – even if that honesty doesn’t extend to the treatment of those living outwith one social category. “People’s lives are sacred”, but perhaps not all people.

In a society (Scots) which, I’d claim, has always been more egalitarian, I do know perfectly well what the Kelman man is riled by. There’s a lot of agin in most of us. It’s that spitting fury which, like yin to yang, also delivers us something much more compassionate. These lines I love.

“When it is freezing cold, snowing, raining, dreich and miserable, you go into the library and get a heat, keep warm. Meet people. That is that. Most important of all is you get entertained… When it happens you know for certain you are alive and living in a world of other people. That is the great thing.”

There’s one piece about a creative writing class. This collection, however, defies many of the accepted Rules promulgated by that modern industry. Aren’t short stories supposed to show, not tell? They’re not meant to read like therapy and catharsis, are they?

Yes, if the author so wishes.

“Much depends on how you define a story, I said.”

Which has a nicely Lewis Carroll-ish ring to it.

The three longest stories strike me as being the strongest, because although we might be in the narrator’s head they are also visual, the inner eye has something to see. One is a story of declared yet unspecific menace featuring a delivery youth in the tenement flat of his dreams. The second takes us, unusually, to a nameless town in America, where the real chill for the trucker who’s revisiting emanates not from his stalker but from Christian fundamentalist/white supremacist complacency. The final story in the book, in following a man and wife round the Barrows market in Glasgow, incorporates – along with the author’s trademark threat – a quite different ingredient: social comedy. It’s very funny. (Might there be more of that to come? I hope.)

The next-to-last words on the last page concern merely the fixing of an outside aerial, but they sum up all that’s gone before: “… lose yer balance son and kay-oh aff ye go, it is windy, ye have to balance, ye just balance.”