Black Parade is the historical novel cast as gripping saga, a page turner and a half. There are the real life events... and the artillery noises-off of faraway battles. But the true sense of history is there in the telling detail, the sort of stuff that a novelist who first went to work underground at the age of twelve would know.
Jack Jones brings it all, and I mean all, to pulsing, chaotic and ambitious life, with its new institutions such as the Town Hall and its many theatres, its hospital and public parks, all helping to shore up an evolving sense of civic pride. Its townspeople can still feel exceedingly proud of the writings of one of the town’s, and indeed Wales’s, most compelling writers, able to show life in all its toughness and tenderness and all the myriad shades in between.
There’s nothing better to do on a beautiful summer’s day than listen to poetry while wandering through the country. So that’s exactly what we did, but with a twist: instead of walking, we horse-trekked our way through beautiful Ogmore.
(the literary tour begins at Ogmore Farm Riding Centre)
On Saturday 18th May, Parthian teamed up with Literature Wales as Dr Kate North and Tom Anderson led a group of anxious literature fans, mainly Dannie Abse fans, across the Ogmore sand dunes on horseback, talking about Dannie’s time in that very place. As everyone got kitted up and introduced to their hairy friend for the day, Parthian got to know the Ogmore Farm Riding Centre’s horses…
(Chucky, the very nosey and affectionate foal)
Afterwards, those who were not so brave to partake in the horse ride (Parthian included), gathered at the stunningly located Glamorgan Heritage Coast Centre for an intimate Q&A and reading with Dannie, who is celebrating his 90th birthday this year – happy birthday, Dannie!
(Tom Anderson and Dr Kate North intensely listen to Dannie Abse)
It was a special day for all those who attended, Dannie’s poems really came alive as he read poems from his collections that were inspired by the Ogmore coast.
This sophisticated, Booker Prize winning novelist often detailed in dissecting detail the lives of siblings. In Stan and Amy she created a pair of memorable south Wales symbionts, and in Amy in particular Rubens detailed a life so empty of love and its attendant affections that it hurts like hell to read about it and chart its cloying, never-ending miseries.
The Autogiography of a Super-tramp by W. H. Davies has been named as the Welsh Books Council's English-language Book of the Month for May 2013.
I have read it through from beginning to end, and would have read more of it had there been any more to read.
George Bernad Shaw
Just at the point when the reader settles into the easy rhythm of quotidian life, Evans jerks him or her out of complacency, nowhere more than when the whole novel moves from realism to magic realism and a series of dreamlike incidents that might have graced a Gabriel Marquez novel. The moon lands in Jenkins the Milk’s green field. Various groups suggest ways of dealing with it, with some plumping for preaching at it! And then they roll the moon to the sea…This fantastical writing sits surprisingly easily among the grittier material, the accounts of men and their hard labours, and the womenfolk’s travails, too, not to mention the strike and the soup kitchens which starve the kids and steal dignity from their parents.
These tender, gently-delivered annals of teenage life with all its hesitancy, petulance and bubbling sexuality constitute one of the genuinely unexpected pleasures of perusing the Library of Wales series. Add to that the fact that it is one of very few fictions that take Llandudno as its backdrop and the case for its inclusion in the series is well nigh complete.It’s little wonder then that this novel, first published in 1960, is novelist Lloyd Jones’s favourite in the series, and that the historian Merfyn Jones supplies a paean of praise by way of preface. For it is a little wonder, full of delicate insight and shot through with the optimism and hormones of life on the cusp of adulthood, which will come all too soon for the young characters who populate its pages because of the war and its recruitments.