A bitesize novella, coming in at a satisfyingly even 100 pages, poet Gwyneth Lewis’ Advantages Of An Older Man is an enjoyable romp from Swansea to New York via the afterworld.
Our heroine Jennie has begrudgingly moved home to live with her parents and has taken up a job in the Dylan Thomas Centre where she hankers after an elusive aspiring poet who remains oblivious to her attentions. After an artistic experiment goes wrong, Jennie seems unsurprised to find herself being haunted by the ghost of Dylan Thomas himself - a character struggling to accept his place in the afterworld, to shake off his former identity as a drunken rat, and to reinvent himself as a long-distance runner.
Gwyneth Lewis’ writing is a sumptuous treat and, even without knowing she is the former National Poet for Wales, the reader of Advantages Of An Older Man might easily assume the writer of this work of prose is a poet. Such is the fluidity and succinctity of her writing.
While at first glance the premise of Advantages Of An Older Man might seem preposterous (and I can see why you might think that based on what I put above), this is more than a novel about a young woman’s frustrated haunting by an annoying ghost. It is a sensitive and funny piece of writing about death, our individual perceptions of ourselves, and the gamut of emotions we experience on a rolling basis.
That this novella can squeeze discussions of poetry, love, death and running into a mere 100 pages is something that pleases this reader enormously.