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The Vagabond's Breakfast
Wales Book of the Year 2012’ (creative nonfiction)
Published 15th April 2011: The Vagabond's Breakfast
The Vagabond’s Breakfast is a book about a person waiting for a liver transplant (myself) and reflecting on some of the choices made and journeys undertaken on the way.
The publisher’s blurb says:
In 2006, Richard Gwyn was given a year to live unless a suitable liver donor were found. A novelist and poet, he lost nine years of his life to vagrancy and alcoholism in the Mediterranean, principally Spain and Crete. This memoir is an account of his "lost" years; of addiction and reckless travel; serial hospitalizations; redemption via friendship, imagination, literature, love and fatherhood; recovery; living with viral hepatitis, and the life-saving gift of a liver graft.
“Richard Gwyn’s memoir – his down-and-out vagabondage around the Mediterranean – takes us on a terrifying, funny, and erudite journey through alcoholism, insomnia, and liver disease to a redemptive and self-accepting wisdom. One hell of a good read.”
“After this, Welsh writing is not going to be the same. More strength to Gwyn, the ultimate winner.”
“Full of brilliantly insightful moments which are uplifting, thought provoking and penned with crisp clarity. The past is imbued with far more than rose-tinted glasses, making for a beautifully written and very accessible book.”
‘A bloody marvellous piece of work’
‘spicy and compelling mix of memoir and philosophy ... a coherent and stylishly literate account ... a book to remember.’
‘Brutally honest, poetic and sometimes funny account ... brave, original and strangely compelling.’
‘a truly remarkable story and written seemingly without an ounce of self-pity ... [contains] some of the finest descriptions of illness I have ever read, on a par with Hilary Mantel's recent Ink in the Blood or Joan Didion's writing about grief in The Year of Magical Thinking. Fabulous. A masterpiece. Best book I have read so far this year (*****)
‘Gwyn writes himself into being, takes us through a Madame Tussauds thronged with addicts, misfits, lovers, all the extreme people who may (or may not) have been part of his past ... non-linear, pensive and polished, part essay, part monologue, and yet another sign that Welsh writing is going through a healthy period’
‘this remarkable memoir’
‘What an achievement this book represents – to avoid both self-romanticising and self-pity is remarkable, and your prose gooses the pleasure centres all the way through.’
‘An enthralling memoir of a young man going deeply and terribly astray.’
‘A jagged tale gracefully told. Full of humane surreality, there’s something whole, even holistic, about the brokenness of the life it pieces (back) together.’
Copyright © 2011 by Richard Gwyn. All rights reserved.