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 began The Vagabond’s Breakfast while recovering from a liver transplant. A memoir of the nine years of drink, drugs and vagrancy that did for his first liver, it’s a jagged tale gracefully told. Full of humane surreality, there’s something whole, even holistic, about the brokenness of the life it pieces (back) together. Like many books about illness, it’s also about health: Gwyn is a citizen of both realms, describing life with “two passports.”
- Patrick McGuinness, TLS Books of the Year