The Collected Stories

by Dylan Thomas

Hardcover, 1984





New York : New Directions, 1984.

User reviews

LibraryThing member CGlanovsky
A short time ago I made myself thoroughly depressed by accidentally reading around the same time three unfinished works: Peake's "Gormenghast" novels, Hasek's "The Good Soldier Svejk", and "Adventures in the Skin Trade" by Dylan Thomas. Now, Peake got so much down that I shouldn't really complain, and Svejk's misadventures at the front were beginning to get tiresome, so it was really the third that truly broke my heart. It's important to realize how impoverished we are by the early death of Dylan Thomas. His story of a young man with his finger stuck in a bottle shows every sign of having been about to be perfect. It's rare for me to laugh out loud at the printed page, but here it was practically unavoidable. I've always thought that if anything happens to us after we're dead there ought to be a library stocked with all the books my favorite authors never got around to writing; the first thing I'll do is pull "Adventures in the Skin Trade" off the shelf and settle down on a bit of cloud to read the whole thing.

But enough of that. There's more to the collection than that one unfinished work. The first several pieces aren't what I think of when I think of Dylan Thomas, which is not to say they aren't good. They're just creepy. Just a taste: in one it seems a little boy is preparing to nail the village idiot to a tree. Yikes. "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog" contains semi-autobiographical pieces that are poignantly moving and quite funny. A favorite line from one: "Although I knew I loved her, I didn't like anything she said or did." I've said enough about "Adventures in the Skin Trade", but following it--what there is of it (single tear)--are a few short pieces which I have seen published together under the title of the first, "Quite Early One Morning." To me, these read like prose poems. They were the first Thomas I ever read and they were deeply resonant, touching something universal. I'm not from a seaside Welsh town, but boy did I feel like I was, or as though all growing-up had something of a seaside Welsh town built into it no matter who you are or where you're from. I recommend you read them out loud to yourself or to someone else and really feel how the words flow together (just remember to breath now and then). A last recommendation: if you celebrate, make a reading of "A Child's Christmas in Wales" a part of your family Christmas tradition.
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LibraryThing member iayork
Dylan Thomas Stories reviewed by Greg Kaiser aka agkaiser: With significant exceptions, "The Collected Stories" chronical the life, if read in that order, of a sad and melancholy man, who was aware of but unwilling to accept the burden on consciousness of the futility of modern life. Thomas lightened his load, by and by, with increasingly frequent jokes and essays into humour. In many ways the stories are an accurate account of the everyday absurdity of Everyman; by one who lived at the time personality was displaced by the development of commercial media hype. Thomas died at age 39 in 1953. If he'd lived a few more years he might have described to us the age of common emotion and undifferentiated humanity, which breaks down only under the influence of alcohol to anything interesting and never unique; that he interpolated and prophecied from his eavesdropping into the lives of his comtemporaries. (No, I don't think that sentence is too long and I think Dylan would have approved.) He didn't spare himself from his snooping. Much of the content is autobiographical. But like a reporter, he just tells us the facts. The inferences and insights are your own. You have to read this volume! END… (more)
LibraryThing member rmckeown
On December 17th of 1843, Charles Dickens published his iconic holiday tale, A Christmas Carol. Everyone is familiar with the details and characters: Scrooge, Marley, Tiny Tim, and the visits of the three ghosts, Christmases Past, Present, and “Yet to Come.” The initial printing of 6,000 copies sold out in a few days and has been popular ever since. Dickens received credit for helping revive interest in old Christmas customs, including Christmas trees and the recently introduced Christmas cards. However, another tale hovers around the edges of Christmas reading – “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” by Dylan Thomas. This prose work, originally written for radio, was recorded by Thomas in 1952. It takes a nostalgic view of Christmas from an earlier, simpler time.

Thomas was born in Swansea, Wales in 1914, and dropped out of school at 16. He first worked as a journalist, but his poem, "Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines" in 1934, laid the foundation for his literary reputation. Thomas and his family lived hand-to-mouth in the Welsh fishing village of Laugharne. He found it difficult to earn a living as a writer, so he turned to radio and speaking and reading tours. “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” became his most popular work, along with the poem, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.” Thomas’ Christmas tale is warm and pleasing to the mind. He begins the story like this,

“One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now […] out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve, or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six” (296).

Thomas then begins his nostalgic recollections, “Years and years ago, when I was a boy, when there were wolves in Wales, and birds the colour of red-flannel petticoats whisked past the harp-shaped hills, when we sang and wallowed all night and day in caves that smelt like Sunday afternoons in damp front farmhouse parlours, [… and while…] we rode the daft and happy hills bareback, it snowed and it snowed. But here a small boy says: ‘It snowed last year, too. I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down, and I knocked my brother down, and then we had tea’.” (297-298).

He continues, “For dinner, we had turkey and blazing pudding, and after dinner the Uncles sat in front of the fire, loosened all buttons, put their large, moist hands over their watch chains, groaned a little, and slept. Mothers, aunts and sisters scuttled to and fro” (301).

Sure sounds like many of my childhood Christmas memories at my grandparent’s home. Start a new tradition and read Dickens' A Christmas Carol and Thomas’ “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” around the tree on Christmas Eve. 5 stars

--Jim, 12/16/13
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