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.
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.