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Adventures in the Skin Trade

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  605 ratings  ·  56 reviews
This collection of the poet Dylan Thomas's fiction––and what an extraordinary storyteller he was!––holds special interest because it ranges from the early stories such as "The School for Witches" and "The Burning Baby," with their powerful inheritance of Welsh mythology and wild imagination, to the chapters he completed before his death of the alas unfinished novel ...more
Paperback, 178 pages
Published January 17th 1969 by New Directions (first published 1955)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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Jun 18, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Me feel dumb reading stories in book. Me do not like feeling dumb, so me give book two stars... The book begins and ends with stories that are very absurdly British. They could have possibly shown up somewhere in Waugh, or maybe K. Amis early body of work. They could have also shown up in something later like B.S. Johnson and not felt out of place. They were good like that. All of the filer stories though I couldn't make heads of tails of. I think not being Welsh added to my confusion. They all ...more
Cailin Deery
Jan 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Dylan’s idea is that you shed skins as you pass into new stages, and it’s only when you look back that you realize you’ve shed a skin. Although it’s unfinished, it doesn’t really matter. It’s the story of one skin in the process of molting.

So, ‘Adventures in the Skin Trade’ is Dylan Thomas’ unfinished novel – his foray into prose – which is a wonderful glimpse into his lovely, coarse sense of humor. The first story of the collection (the unfinished novel) reminds me of ‘a Confederacy of Dunces’
Kristen Godar
Jan 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
You'll either love it or hate it. It will prove a satisfying journey for those who recognize and appreciate the piercing beauty of dischordance when achieved with plan and purpose. This collection contains two of the most unsettling and lovely pieces of short fiction I've ever read. If you like the conventional - linear, literal fiction that does not leave you changed in some way - then you can safely assume this book will not be on your list of favorites.
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
one of the best memories of my life is waking up on a strangers couch, finding this in a second hand book store, and spending the rest of the day lying on the grass with a bag of grapefruits, reading this in the sunshine
Nov 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
I had the feeling, the entire time I was reading this collection, of having my head underwater while someone tries to tell me a story: I can make out the general gist, and some things sound really interesting and different from what I would expect, but really I am never quite sure I know what the other person is saying, and no matter how many times I ask them to repeat it, it's always going to be just as hard to make out.
That being said, there were about three-quarters of these stories that I
Mar 05, 2014 rated it liked it
This book emphasizes just how ahead of his time Dylan Thomas was. His zany poetic narrative descriptions of the settings, the people, and their social interactions in this book is still in my opinion being mimicked today, probably accidently or sub consciously by many authors. Unaware of where it all started. Despite its age there something still very fresh about it. The frustrating thing is that its an incomplete piece of work, and for that reason, it feels like you are just getting a glimpse ...more
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a book that I will be returning to again and again: it contains within each dense sentence an endlessly evolving experience of demiurgical vision that cannot be fully digested in a single reading. Within these stories the transcendent word is a buried treasure; abounding symbols map the way; ancient stories echo through the pages and new myths are born through the resonance. Like the narrator of these stories, the reader must continually search for the elusive meaning of the experience ...more
Sep 20, 2007 rated it liked it
Great title and opening line: "... only one person was awake in the street, and he was the quietest." No coincidence that the main character's called Samuel Bennett as it reads very like a Samuel Beckett. Just a fragment of a novel, he never finished it. The kind of book that academics find hilarious, but only raises the odd wry smile in most everyone else. Nice language, but I'm getting a bit sick of reading books that are heavy on description and light on story...
James Lang
May 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What an unexpectedly gorgeous book. Will send me back to read and re-read more Dylan Thomas.
Jan 17, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't get it. Couldn't follow it. Didn't understand it. I was so glad to finish it.
Andrew David
Aug 30, 2018 rated it liked it
"Image! All image!" exclaims an AitST character, as if in dutiful summary of these beautiful plotless stories // evasive, lyrical, dreamlike // drinking, vague sex and/or illusive metaphors that compare writing to sex, weird dreams // 3.0: 1.0, 3.6, 1.3, 2.8, 5.0, 4.0 // I purchased this at a used bookstore after finding it as part of a book scavenger hunt that I was playing with my wife; I was intrigued by the handwritten inscription on the inside front cover: "If you light a fire for a man, ...more
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a country-boy-goes-to-the-city story. At the station Samuel got his finger stuck in a beer bottle which he carried around d with him for the rest of the story. He also met some distinctly odd people and was introduced to the seamier side of London.
Thomas had an amazing facility with language and this little book was no exception. We definitely get into Samuel's head as he first experienced the big city and allowed it to absorb him.
Kate Mcphail
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
There were so many excited 'wtf am I reading?' moments during this book. Very odd, very angular, very poetic (imagine that). Not cohesive but stunningly punctuated with some of the most descriptive and off-the-wall sentences I have ever had the pleasure of reading. The best $1 I ever spent on a used book.
Geoff Balme
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ghoulish, hilarious, mundane, magical, and at turns impenetrable. A dour world of witches and weirdness galore as well as a few regular nobodies just wandering aimlessly in the rain looking in windows for entertainment.
There’s nothing quite like it.
Beverley Wakefield
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
I had a hard time rating this one. The content is 3 stars, the delivery is five stars. This compilation of short stories reads like a series of poetic dreams. Imagery is vivid, evocative and rich. Plot lines are nearly non-existent.
Dec 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think Thomas picked it's name to get people to read his book and provocative discussions or maybe a ban. The first and last stories are the best. The rest seem to be side pieces to Under Milk Wood.
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
'adventures in the skin trade', what was completed, was brilliantly written and quite enjoyed. a shame he only finishes so little of it.

the other stores included were hit and miss. it's because of them the rating was so low..
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was unprepared.

The title story and unfinished novel is a picaresque about a young man who leaves home and moves to London looking for a woman he has the barest connection to. His adventures are fairly absurd and non-sensical. The other characters are cartoonish and bizarre, though the author manages to capture the simultaneous feelings of uncertainty and invincibility you feel as a young man of privilege entering society.

The rest of the stories are dark and Weird. Thomas taps into the
Jay-Jay Keiper
Feb 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Started off strong, but towards the end the stories were tough to get into. At its best parts reminded me of Shelagh Delaney.
May 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
Thomas is a much stronger poet than writer of fiction, however short. These short stories are left both wanting of poetry and narrative.

Reading this often felt like listening to an incredibly intelligent, fallen-down-drunk alcoholic ramble. Or in its weakest moments, like the drunk was a creative writing student with pretensions to genius.
Joy H.
Feb 27, 2016 marked it as decided-not-to-read-it
Added 2/27/16.
I learned about this book when I read that William Goldman had titled his book, Adventures in the Screen Trade, as a pun on the title of this book by Dylan Thomas, Adventures in the Skin Trade.

I became curious about Dylan Thomas' book. So I have gathered together the following bits and pieces to satisfy my curiosity:
"ADVENTURES IN THE SKIN TRADE (and other stories)" (first published 1955) is a collection of stories BY DYLAN THOMAS.

Jan 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Post-Post Pubescent Harry Potter Fans
Somehow Dylan Thomas' name became familiar to me. Maybe in the same way advertising makes things recognizable to you...and then only later do you realize it got you. In any case, I didn't really know what I was getting myself into, but somehow knew I knew of him but not what he was about.

His short stories are often described as "imaginative" and based on "Welsh Mythology". Somehow I missed that too. But not after reading through dozens of stories that made no sense to me. I did enjoy how
Jan 19, 2008 rated it did not like it
Dylan Thomas, but this is nothing like "A Child's Christmas in Wales," which was all I knew of him previously. It's stream of consciousness, like Joyce, and full of allusions to Welsh mythology which I know nothing about, with a heavy sexual tone throughout. So I just skimmed through the last half, but luckily I was reading close enough early on to find this part I absolutely love, from the start of "The Enemies," p. 58:

"It was morning in the green acres of the Jarvis valley, and Mr. Owen was
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
I'm certain that Dylan Thomas is a wonderful poet and that his genius is held in high regard by those who study and appreciate that sort of thing. However, this collection of stories was at times incomprehensible to the point of being a stultifying slog through a book that should have been a much quicker read. Don't get me wrong. Some of the stories are good and impressively crafted, but others remind me of boilerplate text meant only to serve as a placeholder for real sentences. Maybe I should ...more
Dec 17, 2014 rated it liked it
There sure is some pretty intense imagery in this book, sometimes awesome, sometimes confusing, usually both. Not for people who don't like stream of consciousness-type prose. Better than William S. Burroughs but not as good as Henry Miller. I wish I had a better background in Welsh mythology before I read the stories. I'll probably go back and revisit them a bit. I'm also sure there is a bunch jokes in here I don't understand because I'm not Welsh. Dylan Thomas is a really interesting guy.
Stephen B
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, _english
He conjures up people, and rooms full of furniture, pubs, and drunkenness, and confusion with ease - startlingly evocative. It reminds me a little of Zazie in the Metro, by Raymond Queneau, although that was written a few decades later. Its a crying shame he died before writing more - I would have been very interested if he could have sustained it; I fear it could have easily become too "one note" as it were, but I'm happy to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Oct 04, 2007 rated it it was ok
Only made it half way through then gave up. Claims to be a book of short stories. It's actually long poetry parading itself as a collection of narratives... which I dislike intensely. Read 8 or 9 "stories" and had no idea what was going on in any of them. No character development. No plot to speak of. Had a hard time deciphering any concrete details at all. Totally befuddling and, ultimately, frustrating. Not my cup of tea at all.
The unfinished novel from which this collection takes its title is really quite good, and intriguing. It is unfortunately followed by a collection of monotonous short stories which read more like prose poems than real short stories. They also felt largely redundant, all variations on the same language and ideas. If you like one a lot, you'll enjoy the others, but by the third they were really rubbing me the wrong way.
i've gotten an edition of the skin trade that comes with multiple other short stories. adventures in the skin trade is a great read--but whenever you are reading a poet's prose, you have to expect loads of metaphors, symbols, and of the like. this is a quick read, so i highly recommend the edition with multiple short stories. it's perfect when you have ten to fifteen minutes between meetings and would like a refreshing way to spend the time.
David Enos
Nov 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This might be the best book I've ever read. The jokes are hard to pin down but you feel them happening. I'd always seen the cover and figured it must be some abstract representation of something dealt with in the book, but the main character actually does have his finger stuck in the neck of a bottle. Try to get this edition, with the photo on the cover.
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Dylan Marlais Thomas was a Welsh poet who wrote in English. Many regard him as one of the 20th century's most influential poets.

In addition to poetry, Thomas wrote short stories and scripts for film and radio, with the latter frequently performed by Thomas himself. His public readings, particularly in America, won him great acclaim; his booming, at times, ostentatious voice, with a subtle Welsh