New for 2013: Preview our Forthcoming Titles
We have more excellent titles joining the Library of Wales series this year. Starting off this Spring/Summer season with Autobiography of a Super-tramp by W. H. Davies.
Of Autobiography of a Super-tramp, George Bernard Shaw said ‘I have read it through from beginning to end, and would have read more of it had there been any more to read’. When Bernard Shaw first read the Autobiography in manuscript, he was stunned by the raw power of its unvarnished narrative. It was his enthusiasm, expressed in the Preface, that ensured the initial success of a book now regarded as a classic.
At twenty-two, poet and hard-drinker William H. Davies' restless spirit of adventure took him to turn-of-the-century America, where he worked around the country taking casual jobs where he could, thieving and begging where he couldn’t. Autobiography of a Super-tramp recounts his experiences; richly coloured by the bullies, tricksters, and fellow-adventurers he encountered. He was thrown into prison in Michigan, beaten up in New Orleans, witnessed a lynching in Tennessee, crushed his foot under the wheels of a freight train while attempting to jump aboard with fellow tramp Three-fingered Jack, and got drunk pretty well everywhere.
Best known for his poem 'Leisure' (‘What is this life if, full of care / We have no time to stand and stare...’), W. H. Davies was unable to settle to regular work and spent a significant part of his life as a tramp, living in shelters and doss-houses in London, but began publishing his own poetry in 1905, and became a popular poet in his time.
We have several titles joining the Parthian list this year that may also be of interest to you...
Never before published, and written ‘at white-heat in three weeks’ in autumn 1967 after two visits to the detention island of Léros in the Greek Dodecanese, The Protagonists (paperback, £7.99) is Brenda Chamberlain’s response – both heartbreakingly lyrical and disturbingly visceral – to the right-wing Colonels’ Coup of April 1967.
Editor Damian Walford Davies describes the play as ‘a work to which her whole oeuvre can be said to gather'. A dangerous, dissident text that draws on the conventions of Absurdist theatre, The Protagonists is the dark culmination of Chamberlain’s profound, career-long exploration of individuality, belonging, incarceration, imaginative freedom and the social role of the artist. It is also a startlingly candid articulation of her own emotional and psychological ‘internment’ at this time.
Brenda Chamberlain: Artist and Writer is the first full-length biography of Brenda Chamberlain, chronicling the life of an artist and writer whose work was strongly affected by the places she lived, most famously Bardsey Island and the Greek island of Hydra.
Brenda Chamberlain lived a life of artistic engagement with the world. She published a compelling body of literary work and held solo exhibitions in London and Wales, while her work was shown in over thirty group shows. Her brilliance was mirrored by the journey of her personal life, including marriage to fellow artist and Royal Academy student John Petts, the long relationship with the Frenchman Jean Van der Bijl, the life-long friendship with the German aristocrat Karl von Laer and her eventual journey to Hydra where she lived for many years before returning to Bangor, Wales.
In this biography, exhibition curator, consultant and writer Jill Piercy draws upon extensive research gathered from public and private collections and from interviews with Chamberlain’s friends in Britain, Germany and Greece.
Following on from the warm reception of his novel A Kind of Loving, we're beginning 2013 with a selection of the best of Stan Barstow’s stories covering the last five decades of British life.
The stories of The Likes of Us (paperback, £11.99) follow a group of young tearaways on a night out that begins with horse-play and ends in tragedy; the loneliness of a drunken miner’s wife; a war-shocked ex-sailor forced beyond endurance, a widower is brought to grief by a woman outside his real understanding, and a factory worker finding his way through the physical world of his marriage. Real and involving, “master storyteller” (The Times) Barstow’s stories are urgent slices of life, men and women struggling and succeeding to come to terms with The Likes of Us.
Along with Alan Sillitoe and John Braine, Stan Barstow is considered one of the pioneers of the 1960s school of northern literary realism, and led the way for 'Brit-lit' authors like Nick Hornby.
March will see publication of Mari Stead Jones's Say Goodbye to the Boys (paperback, £8.99). Based on notes she discovered in a wooden box belonging to her author father, Stead Jones, her debut thriller proves that writing is a gift one can inherit, and introduces Mari as a comic writer of the first order.
In Say Goodbye to the Boys, a serial killer is on the loose in a sleepy, Welsh seaside town, picking off victims like some people pick cockles. The year is 1947 and three young men have recently been demobbed and are back at home in north Wales. It's the start of good weather and they're enjoying being alive. They share the favours of Lilian Ridetski, who runs more than a high class hair salon in the town. When she and others are found brutally strangled, suspicion falls on all of her customers.
Blackmail and murder make Say Goodbye to the Boys both a dark comedy and a quick-witted thriller. It's also surprisingly tender, a portrait of old friendships lived to the gentle rhythms of a sleepy, wave-lulled town in the warm face of summer.
This title is already available to download in ebook format for those too impatient to wait for its print publication.
I Wish You Were My Father: R S Thomas & Me (paperback, £8.99) is a lyrical, and deeply moving memoir, with Lee McOwan's relationship with the celebrated Welsh poet and Nobel prize nominee RS Thomas at its heart.
After remarrying and moving to Angelsey in 1990, Lee McOwan – a woman who had never met or known anything about her father – became involved in an unusual and deeply moving love triangle with the revered and so-called cantankerous Welsh poet and Nobel Prize nominee, RS Thomas, and Betty Vernon, the mercurial woman he had known for forty years and who became his second wife.
Her story shines a light on the poet’s final years on the island, and the joys and sorrows of love and loss in old- and middle- age, interweaving the complex strands of their relationship, Lee’s education in Paris, her journey as a writer and psychotherapist, and evocative pastoral descriptions with RS Thomas’s poems and episodes of back-story illustrating his influence. Published at the time of his centenary, admirers of RS Thomas may be intrigued to read about a private, more gentle side of him: a gifted poet, but also man who also baked delicious cakes, and took his wife on a cruise.
Above all this is a book for anyone interested in the redemptive power of the pastoral and the language of great poetry and literature, or anyone ever moved by profound love, betrayal or loss.
Having written extensively about Modern Wales, and selected classic, and often experimental, texts as Series Editor of the Library of Wales series, Dream On is Dai Smith's own fiction debut, to be published in May 2013.
There's Digger Davies and his one cap for Wales and ultimately untimely death; the award winning photographer whose return home will become a quest for his own forgotten identity and compromised life; the thwarted politician in a hospital bed writing his own obituary; and a beautiful girl caught in time, alive in an old man’s memory.
It is a complex composite novel: part black comedy and flashlight noir thriller, part meditation on the stories that connect up the frayed wires in the business of living. There's Digger Davies and his one cap for Wales and ultimately untimely death; the award winning photographer whose return home will become a quest for his own forgotten identity and compromised life; the thwarted politician in a hospital bed writing his own obituary; and a beautiful girl caught in time, alive in an old man’s memory.
For more on all of Parthian Book's Spring/Summer 2013 New Titles visit: www.parthianbooks.com/content/preview-our-spring-summer-2013-titles