Advantages of the Older Man

Gwyneth Lewis
Publication Date: 
Monday, October 27, 2014
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A light-hearted novella exploring the strange case of a Swansea woman who is apparently possessed by the spirit of Dylan Thomas. Naturally all is not as it seems. The woman, who works in the Dylan Thomas Centre, meets a rather different Dylan from the one she knows by repute, one who doesn’t really fit in with the ghosts of other poets in heaven and is desperate to train himself to join the fitter shades of the long distance runners instead. Her own life, which has been lonely and sad, is completely transformed by the encounter.

Fluent and entertaining the story is written with all the confidence and panache you would expect from the former national poet, also a playwright and award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction. Alongside the humour there is a warmth and pathos, and some pithy observations on poets and poetry and the nature of fame.

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Review from Pamreader

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The voice of the narrator, Jennie, hooked me from the first line and I was compelled to read on until I'd finished the novella a couple of hours later.

Jennie's not into poetry, she can't understand why someone would write in a way that's 'designed to put other people off them'. Despite poetry's lack of appeal, Jennie applies for a job at the Dylan Thomas Art Gallery in Swansea and gets it, much to her mother's horror.

Jennie can't understand her mother's reaction and she's not really that interested after a chance encounter with the denim clad Peter Hodson, a moody writer and poet, in the Gallery. Jennie will do anything, including developing a sudden deep appreciation of poetry, to capture Peter's attention. When Peter is drawn to another girl, Jennie is visited by the ghost of Dylan Thomas who offers to help draw Peter's attention
back in her direction, with hilarious and touching results.

Advantages of an Older Man is a little gem of novella with hidden depths. This light-hearted story of a young woman suffering from an unrequited passion explores life, love, death and the fine art of poetry. I loved how Dylan Thomas was portrayed in these pages. Jennie has a tendency to be sarcastic and occasionally vicious in her assessment of Dylan's character. Sometimes he gives as good as he gets and at other times he fades from view and Jennie regrets her harsh words. As they get used to each other, Dylan takes Jennie on a journey of self-discovery that she will never forget.

Pam McIlroy

23/12/2014 - 09:48