cover image Dylan: The Nine Lives of Dylan Thomas

Dylan: The Nine Lives of Dylan Thomas

Jonathan Fryer. K. Cathie, $29.95 (276pp) ISBN 978-1-85626-090-9

In this unsympathetic, viperish portrait of the Welsh writer famed for his lyric verse and prose (Fern Hill; A Child's Christmas in Wales), Fryer (Eye of the Camera) reappraises the life and work of Thomas, who ``has become a stereotyped image of what a wild poet should be, though of course he was quite unique.'' According to Fryer, Thomas (1914-1953) produced only a small amount of good poetry and was better at prose. Fryer posits (uncontroversially) that Thomas's tragic death from alcoholism resulted from his need to mythologize himself. He describes the heavy drinking indulged in by both Thomas and his wife, Caitlin, while they lived like nomads, neglecting their three children and dodging bill collectors. He also details Thomas's reading tours in the U.S., during which the poet behaved badly toward his patrons and conducted boozy love affairs. Thomas's excessive behavior has been documented elsewhere, and Fryer's judgmental treatment and obvious dislike of his subject offer few additional insights. Photos. (Dec.)