Books: Not Going Gentle Anywhere

A biography of Dylan Thomas offers a portrait of the artist as a young, drunken, self-destructive man

During one of his boozy, boisterous poetry reading tours of the U.S. in the 1950s, Dylan Thomas was asked how he felt about something or other "as a poet." He replied, "I'm only a poet when I'm writing poetry. The rest of the time, I'm...well, Christ, look at me."

He wasn't a pretty sight. Tousled and bloated, he was drunk much of the time, playing the buffoon and getting into fights at bars and parties, making crude passes at women and cadging money and favors that he rarely repaid. As Andrew Lycett recounts in Dylan Thomas (Overlook Press; 421 pages),...

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