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The Alone to the Alone by Gwyn Thomas

The Alone to the Alone (edition 1947)

by Gwyn Thomas, Ian Rowlands (Foreword)

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243443,774 (4.28)7
Title:The Alone to the Alone
Authors:Gwyn Thomas
Other authors:Ian Rowlands (Foreword)
Info:Parthian Books (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 184 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:novel, satire, Welsh literature, working class

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The Alone to the Alone by Gwyn Thomas


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The only way to give you a genuine idea of this book is to quote it -- extensively, which I'll refrain from overdoing. The Alone to the Alone is endearing and funny, and the grey reality of its subject matter only serves to emphasise the warmth and humour of the book itself. It does gymnastics with language without even touching the edge of self-conscious pretentiousness (at least as I see it).

His complacency, between the whisky and the way we stood there dumbly listening, had reached a fresh peak. His face looked the cosiest thing on earth. With leather binding on the ears to take the strain one could have sat on it and felt grateful.

As for plot, well, it's set in Wales, in the slums, during the Great Depression. It's about love and poverty; unemployment and the Government; justice and injustice, with a greater emphasis on the latter. It's a political book, and decidedly left-wing. There is anger in this novel, but it's veiled by a sort of ironic garrulousness - and the resigned tone of the narrative voice is perhaps its greatest charm.

We were seeking, without wealth, influence or a map, for the materials of a new social understanding aimed at something lower than love, a muddied concept, but fixed beyond the chilling reach of envy and contempt. A large order as all know who have taken more than half a dozen steps beyond the cradle. Now here was this Shadrach measuring our rhapsody for the hatchet and describing us as woodlice. We gave the term some thought for we had never been called that in the afternoon before. We are larger, fairer-skinned and faster. We eat no wood unless it has been thoroughly ground beforehand...

Gwyn Thomas reminds me a lot of Ruth Park - but that comparison would give a slightly skewed idea of either author. Still, think of The Harp in the South, and you've got something at least similar to The Alone to the Alone, only the latter is funnier, has more elastic language, and verges oh so slightly on the absurd.

I'm not sure why others feel there isn't an ending to this book; it was satisfying to me. Those who deserve it most get their come-uppance, and there is a much-needed avoidance of a fairytale happy-ever-after.
13 vote ChocolateMuse | Jul 2, 2012 |
Absolutely fantastic book I read grinning from ear to ear with the occasional burst of out-loud laughter, only to be disappointed (and somewhat suprised) by the fact Gwyn Thomas hasn't really ended it. Or at least he hasn't ended it very well. If he'd finished it properly this really would have been a stone-cold classic, a Welsh Flann O'Brien but better. The quality of the prose is excellent. Looking forward to Dark Philsophers; Gwyn Thomas seems to have given himself a bit more space to work in with that one, judging from the width of it. ( )
3 vote Quickpint | Oct 8, 2010 |
A perfect book for those without a sense of justice, poetic and otherwise. ( )
2 vote Porius | Oct 8, 2008 |
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'Venus and the Voters' and 'The Alone to the Alone' are the same book. 'Venus and the Voters' is the title used in the U.S.; 'The Alone to the Alone' is the title used in the U.K."
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