I can’t decide which book I’m more into right now.

After my trip to Wales, I picked up Andrew Lycett’s excellent biography Dylan Thomas. A New Life to re-read.

There’s something about reading with hindsight. When I read the biography a few years back, all the names of places–Swansea, Langharne, New Quay–were just words on paper.

But to now be able to impose an image seen with my own eyes over the details of the places where Thomas lived has changed how I thought about the poet and his work.

The descriptions of the Boathouse in Langharne where Caitlin, Dylan and their children lived courtesy of cheap rent by his benefactress Margaret Taylor didn’t come to life until I saw the setting for myself. When I saw the shed that was Thomas’ writing place, preserved to show what it was like when he was there and the view he faced, I understood what being at Langharne meant to him.

A second book I started partly because of the movie Midnight in Paris which I saw on a recent flight to Asia (but didn’t finish so don’t tell me what happens…I’m at the point where Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams broke up) was Scott Donaldson’s Hemingway vs. Fitzgerald.

I thought I knew most Fitzgerald and Hemingway facts but the subtitle The Rise and Fall of a Literary Friendship added a new dimension and the book has changed my view of both writers. Example: I had not known the influence Fitzgerald had on Hemingway’s first book The Sun Also Rises and how by the time Hemingway finished A Farewell to Arms how their relationship had reversed from protege to equal to superior.

For some reason, I had always thought that Fitzgerald was the protege and Hemingway, because of his outsized personality, was the giant.

Discovered this Gertrude Stein line to Hemingway that I hadn’t read before:

If you keep on doing newspaper work, you will never see things, you will only see words.



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