Quite Early One Morning, by Dylan Thomas
I don’t think that Quite Early One Morning is a book I would normally choose for myself, but I was craving more short stories and Dylan Thomas is one of my boyfriend’s favorite authors, so that made me curious about him. I don’t know that I’d call the pieces in this book “short stories”, exactly; they are like short stories, memories, essays, and poetry all at once. Most of the pieces included in the book were well known in Thomas’ time, the 40’s and early 50’s, because they were read and broadcast over the radio in both the UK and the US. And they are beautiful.
The book is comprised of two distinct sections: the first is made up of autobiographical meanderings through Thomas’s childhood in Wales. The docks, the towns, the people–all described just perfectly and magically, with rumbling, spitting language– that I really felt I had a sense of the place. Thomas’s writing is strongly imbued with its own rhythm, and I was tempted to read aloud to feel the physicality and movement of his words. I didn’t at the time because I read most of it on an airplane and didn’t want to cause any disturbance, but I might go back at some point and try it.
The second part contains some of Thomas’s thoughts about older Welsh poets and their literary contributions. Though I wasn’t quite as interested in this part as I was in the first, Dylan Thomas’ writing kept me happy and engaged.
I would love to track down some recordings of his radio broadcasts so that I could hear these pieces read in his own voice. Though it certainly shines through the written word, I imagine there’s no real substitute for hearing it aloud.
If you’d like, you can read the title story (incidentally, my favorite in this collection) here, to give you an idea of his work. Enjoy!