My First Colouring Book, By Lloyd Jones

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The Independent Culture

In this, his first collection of short stories, the Welsh-speaking novelist Lloyd Jones investigates love (active and decayed), death, god and Godlessness; and all the tales are classified by colour.

"Black" shows us an ageing libertine and historian, hagridden by old erotic tickles. On his way back from a church service into which he and his mysterious researcher had inadvertently stumbled, he meets the uncanny "Gatherer of Sins". In "Transparent", a sweet story of rekindled love, a divorcee attempts to fall in love and prepares an advertisement accordingly. Trouble is, each night sees him sleepwalking further and further, towards the house of "Sharon Shagpot". The splendidly surreal "Blood" has an entire Welsh valley turn Mexican.

There is great fun to be found in his juxtapositions between the worlds of fact and faery, even if Jones' choice of image sometimes misses the mark. The four accounts of his travels around Wales, which conclude the collection, have a lovely innocence and insight to them.