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Christien Gholson's Blog Entries

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A signed colour plate hardback edition of Dannie Abse’s Goodbye, Twentieth Century is a part of twenty-five limited sets of the whole series of the Library of Wales, available from Parthian this December. Dannie signed the colour plate of his portrait by Josef Herman, which is in the National Museum of Wales collection, on publication in 2012.

Dannie's rich mixture of Welsh and Jewish backgrounds, and his dual occupations of doctor and author, have led to what is widely regarded as one of the most readable, humorous and poignant autobiographies available today. Goodbye, Twentieth Century incorporates his acclaimed first volume of autobiography, A Poet in the Family, and in this new edition from the Library of Wales brings his life up to the present day and the outset of a new century. It includes a moving epilogue that speaks of his recent years which brought tragedy and dramatic change to his life.

Cynan Jones, author of Betty Trask Award-winning The Long Dry (Parthian, 2006) and Everything I Found on the Beach (Parthian, 2011), was recently asked by The Guardian to choose his top 10 books which best evince the "mythic power of place" that is to be found in the rolling hills, solitary farm communities and weathered mountain crags of rural Wales.

Wales’s physical landscape changes dramatically region by region. The Beacons differ from Snowdonia differ from the Cambrian Mountains differ from the Preselis. There are isolated hill farms, wealthy border farms, small patchwork farms – all within relatively close distance. But the individuality of each place and the characters who live in them is strong. Landscape, then, is a strong if not main protagonist in the books below. But there’s a thing that seems to seep time and again into those landscapes: myth. Myth that sticks in the treads of boots and gets walked all through these stories…

For BBC Economics Editor Robert Peston, In the Chair by Andrew Green is ‘An excellent guide for those who perform that most under-rated and important of roles; chairing a group' and The Bay concurs, praising the fact that the book 'is concise and digestible without sacrificing any relevant and useful information.' 
Also reviewed recently in The Welsh Agenda, Issue 53, was Leighton Andrew's Ministering to Education by Rajvi Glasbrook Griffiths.
He writes that 'Candour is really the strength of the book, particularly so in the clarity with which Andrews describes the workings of ministerial duties and life.' Additionally: 
'The meetings; the people; the internal power jostling; the ‘silo mentality’ blocking so much inter-departmental communication; lack of corporate memory; dubious degrees of accountability; initiative compounding initiative within a culture of cosy consensus in, too often, a ‘quango mentality culture of sweetheart deals with local authorities’: all pitfalls described with vim, humour and self-deprecation.'
Both books are available now. 
In the Chair can be found Read more

This set of 39 books, featuring seminal works from authors such as Gwyn Thomas, Raymond Williams and Arthur Machen, as well as a special signed copy of Dannie Abse's biography, is the perfect gift for literary lovers this Christmas.

Carly Holmes' debut novel The Scrapbook
99p on Kindle until 2nd December 2014
Three women, three generations: one dark secret...
The Scrapbook captures darkly dangerous grandmother Ivy, alcoholic mother Iris and daughter Fern, emotionally detached but striving to get more from life, at the moment Fern is tasked with tracking down her errant father Lawrence. Lawrence is the absent heart of the novel, the voiceless centre that the three women circle. He is the love of Iris’ life and the bane of Ivy’s. In the process of finding Lawrence, or at least finding out what happened to him, Fern must confront her own chosen template for living and decide whether she wants to continue with it and pass it on in her turn to the next generation.
The Scrapbook meditates on the unreliability of memory. It’s about the tangled, often dysfunctional, bonds of family; about soothing yourself with fairytales instead of challenging yourself to live with reality. 
" impressive debut novel from an extremely talented writer."  – Adrian Masters, Wales Arts Review
"[A]n extremely readable debut.
About the prize
The M. Wynn Thomas Prize is offered to celebrate outstanding scholarly work in the field of Welsh writing in English. There are two prize categories: the ‘Open’ category and the ‘New Scholars’ category. Essays submitted may be unpublished or published, in English or in Welsh. Published essays should be from 2013/14. Topics may include all aspects of Welsh writing in English as well as the inter-relationship of Welsh writing in English with cognate areas (Welsh Studies, history, cultural studies, film/media studies, translation studies, performance/theatre studies, digital humanities, comparative literature etc.). The judging panel for the 2015 Prize will be Dr Matthew Francis (Aberystwyth University/University of Wales Trinity Saint David), Dr Aidan Byrne (University of Wolverhampton) and Dr Alyce von Rothkirch ( Swansea University).
The prize is awarded for a piece of substantial scholarship that is engagingly written. We encourage submissions that are ground-breaking in terms of subject-matter and/or methodology/disciplinarity. Essays that grapple with new ideas in an intelligent and conceptualised way are preferred.
Looking back on my debut novel, This September Sun, I am conscious of how ambitious a project it was. It is a long book and it took a long time to write, but it also needed a fair amount of research. Researching the past, even if it is only the 1940s is not as easy in Zimbabwe as it may be in a place like Britain. There are not many books either written about or set in the time. Those that are, tend to be political history which, although relevant to a certain degree, are often rather tedious to read. Film coverage is not that easy – actually it is fairly impossible – to come by and I had to rely on newspapers in the archives and interviews with some now quite elderly people.
The former are fascinating. I could lose myself all day in old newspapers. They speak of fundraising balls, teas and fetes. They advertise luxury accommodation at hotels with porters and cars meeting each train, film reels at the cinema, a list of who’s in town and who’s staying where and groceries, goods and clothes that were impossible to get in ration-strapped Britain. There is also news about the war and the small ads include the inevitable death notices of young men lost in battle.

Insightful...amusing...very readable...highly recommended

These are just a few of the adjectives used by Phil Morris, Managing Editor of Wales Arts Review, in his recent glowing review of Andrew Green's In the Chair: How to Guide Groups and Manage Meetings, published in the most recent edition of Agenda magazine.

Morris lauds Green's "lucid prose", which is "leavened with wit and snippets of dialogue that offer brief and illuminating examples of good practice, his "commendably wide range of sources", and his decision to forgo "the business-school management speak that might muddle his message", before conclusing that the book is an essential purchase for "anyone with thoughts of chairing public and third sector organisations".

Read the full review here.

There was also a mention of the book in a recent edition of The Western Mail from Dylan Jones Evans, "the professor who shoots from the hip". In his article, he heralds the publication of In the Chair as being "long overdue", and calls it a "compelling read...that can help both novice and experienced chairs to fulfil their potential in this role over time."

'Touching, mature and imaginative, this is a wonderful debut collection from an author who looks set to make a significant contribution to the changing shape of Welsh writing as her career develops.' Emma Schofield enjoys Georgia Carys Williams' debut short story collection Second-Hand Rain, reviewed for Wales Arts Review

Read the WAR review in full

Buy Second-Hand Rain from Parthian.