Planet Online

Robin T. Chapman reviews Cuddwas by Gareth Miles


Y Lolfa, £8.99

In Welsh-language fiction, Gareth Miles is about as un-tricksy as it gets. His stories race along; there are defined beginnings, middles and ends, and a discernible natural justice prevails. Cuddwas is no exception. Its characters range across Wales, Manchester, Yorkshire, London, the Costa del Sol and the Basque Country; they feel parental pride, anxiety and ambition; they drink; they lust and love, and generally find the business of maintaining relationships problematic. The twist here is that the central character, an undercover policeman professionally obliged to adopt multiple personalities and square these with his conscience, lives out these stories in parallel and in contradiction. A Mihangel Morgan would have made the composite, shape-shifting Elwyn Lloyd-Williams meet himself; a Tony Bianchi would have led him along false trails to challenge him with his own unknowability; even a Martin Davis, whose novels inhabit a recognisable Wales, would, one suspects, have internalised his dilemma as pathology. Not so, Gareth Miles. Although the novel’s cover shows a face looking at an altered reflection of itself in a mirror, his two-headed monster never sees himself as such.

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