Among the highlights, "A Season with Eros" is a hilariously candid account of newlywed passion doused by a sour-faced mother-in-law, while the hooligan protagonist of "The Desperadoes" ("Sometimes you feel you just can't rest until you've smashed summat") is a reminder that Barstow's fury made most other angry young men seem only mildly annoyed.
In a recent Guardian interview the British novelist Rupert Thomson suggested that:'Fiction essentially teaches you to understand and empathise with other people. That’s important. I think fiction is related to ethics in that you step out of your skin and become someone else for the period you are reading the book. And it is a short step to extrapolate from that to the teaching of compassion.'I took these thoughts with me into a reading of the artful, economical short stories marshalled into Dorothy Edwards’s Rhapsody, first published in 1927. These terse and ironic tales seem to teach us very little about compassion, or much about human warmth and connectedness for that matter.The ten stories that make up Rhapsody – with an additional three bonus tales in this LOW edition – do not make for empathetic fiction, yet they are undoubtedly fine works, taut and elegantly wrought narratives with never a single word wasted. They are always, unutterably refined, yes, that’s the word, very refined.
When Mari Stead Jones found the secret writing archive of her father, she resolved to finish the novel he never published.[...]Ten months after the first foray into her father’s archive, Mari – who lists Agatha Christie’s The Big Four, Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series and Iain Banks’ Whit as some of her favourite books – had transformed into a writer herself.On 1 March this year, Parthian published her first book – Say Goodbye to the Boys, a stylish, character-rich tale set in 1947, when three young friends return from the war to their small Welsh hometown for a lazy summer, only to discover that everything has changed. It’s a whodunit, complete with a trail of clues and a bumbling detective.Jones likes to think of the book as a partnership.
the mind quivering amid broken spheres of split radiance and flaming skies, that opened before the inner vision a kingdom of unearthly emotion, where landscapes were voices of strange chants, where music was carved into symbols of crystal colour, and stars opened into faces of inspired beauty…
Sian Lile-Pastore is starting a new book/reading group in St Fagans which looks really good. She says: "We will be reading and discussing novels with Welsh or historical links. We will also have talks with curators and experts to tie in with the books. Join our first ever book club and discuss The Rebecca Rioter by Amy Dillwyn. After the discussion there will also be a chance to visit the Tollhouse in St Fagans with curator Sioned Hughes. Booking essential : (029) 2057 3424"
The first session will meet at St Fagans on Saturday 16 March (11am-1pm).
This cornucopia offers up the harvest of a century’s worth of versifying by a hundred poets, running from W.H.Davies, born in 1871 to Owen Sheers, born in 1974. Poetry 1900-2000 also stands as yet another testament to the Stakhanovite energies of its editor, the indefatigable and boundlessly productive Meic Stephens, who has produced, by now, not just one but two whole centuries of books, as they now number over two hundred titles.
This anthology, with its elegant potted histories of the poets, shot through with Stephens’ perceptive take on their work, can stand proudly on the bookshelf next to the Companion to Welsh Literature and the various Artist in Wales compendia and the bite sized Corgi poets series and so on. It offers a judicious selection from an art form that is deeply in ingrained in the Welsh consciousness, indeed some go as far as suggest it has been pivotal in shaping it…
6. Rhapsody by Dorothy EdwardsIf you have a friend who is about to marry somebody hopelessly incompatible and is planning on living with them in a large, isolated house without electricity, you must do everything you can to get them to read "A Country House" from this collection. It might just give them pause for thought. Please read this overlooked masterpiece. I bet you don't - I'm always on about it, but nobody ever listens.
"If ever there were summer days with long, long shadows they were those of 1930s, when to live in Wales was to sense the far off dramas being played out as the Holocaust began its evil, as Hitler started his demonic rise, even as a myriad tragedies, personal and familial were enacted in the starving terraces of south Wales and elsewhere as the Great Depression strip-mined hope itself. It was a decade of other changes, too, not least technological…""Suddenly, some anonymous futuristic man, a long way away in a power house, touched some gigantic switch and the lamp-posts jerked to life; and, though it was not dark, the electricity demarcated the country from the town more absolutely than any fumbling sunshine of a windy summer afternoon"