Poet, novelist, playwright, diaryist, anthologist and broadcaster, Dannie Abse has contributed hugely to literature in Britain. In There Was a Young Man From Cardiff he presents a series of deceptions – or are they? – which ask about the nature of ’truth’ and ’reality’.
Characters and events materialise and change as though a mist swirls around them: twins appear and disappear in ’Madagascar’; ’The Marvellous Girl’ echoes the ’marvellous boy’ of Chatterton, whose writing fooled the literary world. Behind these fictions is the young Dannie, newly qualified doctor struggling to grasp the post-war world of adults, relationships, family and illness. His progress towards a better understanding of life is mirrored by his development as a writer. Charming, quirky, Dannie Abse’s fiction is a world in which everyday surfaces are underlain by the strange, scarcely understood currents of human nature.