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Alcemi is a new quality fiction imprint from an established independent publisher. Writers from Wales will be our cornerstone, but there will be no bars to setting, subject or style. We are looking for original contemporary fiction that will resonate within Wales and far beyond.

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Courtesy Jo Mazelis, Richard Gwyn, author of The Vagabond's Breakfast

The Vagabond's Breakfast


A Memoir by Richard Gwyn



Author of The Colour of a Dog Running Away

ISBN: 9780956012555. Price: £9.99


Look inside: pages 1-16 (PDF)

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, intellect, love and fatherhood; recovery; living under sentence of death, and the life-saving gift of a hepatic graft.

Richard Gwyn is a novelist, poet and critic. A brief incarnation as a beat poet in the late Seventies culminated in an appearance as a support act to The Cure. He also worked as an inadvertently fraudulent milkman and (legitimate) sawyer in London until an industrial accident led to voluntary exile from Thatcherism and nine years of vagrancy in the Mediterranean. His publications include The Colour of a Dog Running Away, published in the UK, USA and in many translations, and Deep Hanging Out, both novels; two academic titles on illness, the body, and communication, and several poetry titles, the most recent being Sad Giraffe Cafe. He is Director of the MA in the Teaching and Practice of Creative Writing at Cardiff University, and lives in the city with his wife and two daughters.

"It is extraordinary how much time I wasted sitting around, waiting for something to happen, living in abandoned buildings in Greece and Italy, staying in flophouses for the homeless in France and Spain, or, more usually, sleeping rough. I endured long periods with no money and little food, working a few days here or there, getting drunk for days or weeks at a time; was hospitalised in four countries for de-tox, as well as for a staggering assortment of injuries, including an impressive number of head-wounds, incidents in which I was hit by people or moving vehicles: once in a pub... I was dragged outside by the landlord, a burly, homicidal fellow, – no doubt I had offended him with some item of sarcasm or personal derogation, behaviours I have sought to contain over the years – who grasped my head and battered it repeatedly against the outer wall of the hostelry, putting me at risk of all manner of cerebral injuries. But this was only one in a series of such assaults."


Praise for Richard Gwyn
“Gwyn is always worth reading,” Scott Pack

Reviews of The Colour of a Dog Running Away

“The best novel of the year,” Scott Pack, The Bookseller; “Clever stylish and supremely entertaining,” Boyd Tonkin, The Independent; “Witty and assured,” The New Yorker; “Hugely enjoyable,” The Times; “Clever... dark and funny,” The Scotsman; “Strange and beautiful,” The Big Issue; “Compelling and beautifully precise. A talent to watch.” Newsday

Published on 15 April 2011

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