Friday, May 07, 2010

Blackout by Tracy Ann Williams

Arriving by air from Wales I received my copy of Blackout on a Thursday, and was headed down to Washington DC for a 3 day retreat.  I started the book on Friday night, but due to the pace of the conference I did not return to it until Monday, which was a day off for me.  By Tuesday I finished reading the Blackout.

is a self-published book by Tracy Ann Williams, the self described Welsh Mountain Girl - exhibitionist - writer looking for a publisher to take notice.  Sounds like me:  well, not the Mountain Girl - exhibitionist part, but the rest of it.  She calls herself the "Naked Blonde Writer," which I am sure gets significant attention on Twitter, and probably more than a few undesirable requests.

Since nothing Welsh on Twitter gets by me for too long, I happened upon Tracy some months back shortly before my trip to Wales.  I tried to connect with her in Wales to pick up a book while I traversed the nation from South to North and back again, but I am sure that strange Americans asking Naked Blonde Writers for a personal delivery of their books are frequent and sketchy propositions.  So it was a couple months later I received it via the volcano-dust delayed air routes.

Back to the book:

is a raw, dark, and desperate picture of Rhondda Valley life among druggies, and factory workers.  It is  filled with F-bombs, anger, wild dreams, and hopelessly trapped people caught on the painful knife edge of poverty and addiction.  It is not something which would typically make my list of of books, but then the picture with a stack of some of the other things I am reading right now might suggest that.

The mountain wandering protagonist, a 29 year old blonde meets the dreamer boy, wannabe rockstar from the moneyed English family and they stomp off angrily toward his dreams of success in a secluded house in the Brecon Beacons of South Wales.  (I am sure I have driven by that house, even though this is a fictional tale.)

English privilege is juxtaposed against the struggling Welsh working class.  A deadly paced party life stands against a healthy on the outside only well-to-do lifestyle.  The hopelessness of the daily drudgery of the working class, and Valley addicts is contrasted with the laissez-faire attitude of the rich who do not have to work or scrape along for survival.

I have a pre-release copy, which still had corrections to make before final printing, so the beginning of the book was chopped up a bit with sections printed twice, misspellings, and incorrect chapter divisions.  Despite that it read smoothly enough, generally transitioned well.  The second half of the book moves at a frenetic pace like an action novel.  It lifts you toward hope, and drops you toward despair, and captures a wild bi-polar movement in between the two extremes.

Don't read this if you are thinking of moving to the Rhondda, because it won't encourage you.  Don't read it if you are troubled by nightmares after dark readings.  Do read it if you like dark literature, don't mind F-bombs, and certainly read it if you like to support new writers, or artists coming out of Wales.  It is a good read.

Tracy is a talented, Welsh mountain hermit actress who spent some years in Hollywood and now likes stay on top of the mountain only to pop out every now and then and show off.

You can get your copy of Blackout from Amazon.  If you get it, blog about it, and pass the word on. You can find out more about Tracy on her website.

So Cymru am byth! and buy a book to support struggling artists and for the sake of easing your aching hiraeth.


Greg Cannon said...

Phil, it sounds like you've been captivated by Wales and the attractions she has to offer.

Not every Welsh hillside has a Naked Blonde Writer (, but every valley has dark side. Shades of crazy is new fashion in Welsh cultural circles and Tracy's writing fits perfectly with this genre. In a place that worships and abhors the underachieving, underemployed, underclass, Tracy delivers the iconography and subtext outsiders often misreport. Should literature teach us anything, it is likely to be good writing is 'of the culture, time and place' it is written. If you want to understand something of today's Wales and her people, Blackout is a must read. The only question is, do you want to know the real Wales? Well, do you?

Pastor Phil said...


Thanks for posting. Yes, captivated by Wales indeed. Wished I did not have to come home. I could have stayed in Caernarfon for far longer, or wandered to the west, which I have yet to discover. So, I will return and drink from the streams of cadiar idris again. :-)