Thursday, 11 September 2014

Memoirs Found in a Bathtub by Stanislaw Lem - a 43-word review

This Great-with-a-Capital-G dystopian satire was published in 1971 but could've been written last week. It's not what I was expecting from the author of Solaris - clearly Lem wasn't the kind of writer to knock out the same book twice. 

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Room by Emma Donoghue - a 42-word review

Reading Emma Donoghue's Room is a genuinely unsettling and compelling experience. If you've never heard of it, I'd advise you not to find out anything about the book in advance - it will only put you off. Just read it. End of review. 

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Review - Blindness by Jose Saramago

There's a devastating moment at the midway point of Jose Saramago's Blindness which would've served as the perfect ending to the novel - an unhappy ending for sure, but only to be expected in this type of fiction. 

Up until the halfway point, Blindness is a haunting dystopian classic. The second half seems fairly pointless. It's grim for the sake of being grim, with an disappointing conclusion. 

As in Cormac McCarthy's The Road, Saramago's characters are deliberately one-dimensional, which works incredibly well. The need for distinct characteristics (or even names) isn't the point.  It's a story about human beings attempting to survive in an oppressive environment. 

I don't usually make a habit of offering writing tips to sadly-departed Nobel Prize winners, but if I was editing this book I'd have made it 50% shorter. 

By the way, don't read this book if you're looking for an accurate and sensitive portrayal of blindness as a disability. To say the least, Saramago was pretty far off the mark. 

Casting this shortcoming aside, the first half of this novel is well worth reading. 

Monday, 11 August 2014

Review - Choke by Chuck Palahniuk, read by the author

To sum up simply, Choke is a Chuck Palahniuk novel. If you like Chuck  Palahniuk, you'll love Choke. If you love Choke enough to digest it again, the audiobook version will definitely enhance your experience. 

Unlike many authors, Palahniuk is the perfect performer of his own work. His delivery is suitably dark, capturing both the novel's seriousness and its blacker-than-black humour. 

If you've never read any Palahniuk,  or seen the film version of Fight Club, I suggest you do both. 

I'm yet to see the film version of Choke, but I'm hoping it will exceed my expectations as much as the audiobook did. 

Palanik's reading of the novel is followed by an author's note revealing the shocking circumstances in which the novel was written (in the wake of the author's father's murder). 

Friday, 25 July 2014

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami - a brief review

Reading Murakami reminds me that there  is far too much logic in fiction. The vast majority of the world's fictional characters inhabit a world in which every action has a rational explanation. Even sci fi and fantasy novels come equipped with their own internal logic. In creating these fictional landscapes, authors are ignoring the fact that we live in an irrational and illogical world. 

An old creative writer once told me: 'The world makes no sense, but in stories, everything needs to make a sense.' As inspirational as that particular teacher was, I disagree with him on that point. 

Murakami is the master of illogical fiction. Kafka on the Shore is the perfect example of a world in which reality is open to interpretation, and in which unexplained phenomena dominate. It portrays a world in which we spend half of our lives - a dream state. 

It's pretty much the closest you can get to a perfect novel. 

Despite the reference in the title, Murukami is an altogether different writer to Kafka - and in my opinion he's of equal importance. 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Butchering the classics

Currently listening to the audiobook version of Haruki Murakami's classic, Kafka on the Shore. Really tempted to press 'Shuffle'. 

Come to think of it, what I ought to do is listen to a linear narrative on Shuffle and see if it still makes sense. War and Peace, maybe? 

Monday, 14 July 2014

If You Ever Need a Shoulder to Cry On, Don’t Use Mine or You’ll End Up in Hot Water by Stephen Moles

Here's a surreal and original short story by Philistine Press's Stephen Moles from Swamp Biscuits and Tea

Stephen's novella Life.exe can be downloaded for free here

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

The Republic of Mania

Anyone who related to Philistine Press's 'Things That Don't Exist' should pay close attention to 

Friday, 13 June 2014

"El Gesto" (The Gesture)

In the words of Miga:

"El Gesto" (The Gesture) is a project, which is created as a visual arts reference in a research project. The aim of this research project is to interpret facial gestures. Creation and movement sequences of fixed images, linked to a three-dimensional animation are his offers. This is the main graphic resource of this work, together with the own esthetics, offered by gestural movement of human being.

Researchers show that 80 facial muscles are able to create more than 7000 facial expressions. Most of us can detect if somebody is happy, angry, amazed, frightened,... all these facial gestures create an esthetical range of movements that make us understand people’s mood and feelings.

This visual piece by Murfy is based on the theme music "Elles" released on [Miga26] No-More-Music Komite "Folk Hero".

Friday, 6 June 2014

The Dream World of Dion McGregor

Many authors, myself included, attempt to create narratives that tap straight into an internal dream-state with minimal interference from the conscious mind.  No one could possibly do this better than Dion McGregor, recorded sleep-talking in an extraordinary lucid and eloquent manner.

The most amazing audio recording I've heard for a long, long time. 

I've got a feeling I'm still going to be listening to this in years to come.

Monday, 26 May 2014

How Everything Works

"A famous urban legend states that a penny dropped from the top of the Empire State Building will punch a hole in the sidewalk below. Given the height of the building and the hardness of the penny, that seems like a reasonable possibility. Whether it's true or not is a matter that can be determined scientifically..." 

So begins the latest in a long line of answers from  

Great website. Who needs a physics degree?   

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Smashwords and OverDrive

Top news for Philistine Press and for indie authors in general: 

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Hikikomori by Ellen Kennedy and Tao Lin - an inarticulate review

Er ... What can I say? ... This book is indefinable.  And it's awesome.  Simple as that.

Hikikomori can be read online for free here.  Hats off to Bear Parade for publishing it.

More about the authors here.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Russell Jeanes

In their own words: 

Russell Jeanes & Catherine Hershey have never met - they discovered each other through Soundcloud, and liked each others songs so much they started to work together. 

They make songs about the magic in nature. 

Russ lives in a cottage in the middle of a wood near the Yorkshire dales, and Catherine lives in Paris. 

Russ writes his songs in his cottage and sends them across the channel to Catherine, where she sings them. 

Mesmerising stuff.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Interview - Lacy Lalonde

Lacy Lalonde interviewed by Frank Burton. 

Lacy's short story collection can be downloaded for free from

What attracted you to using spiders as a subject for fiction? (Are you afraid of them?) 

I have always had a general interest in anything that I could catch and keep in a jar. When I was a kid I often housed frogs and snakes and salamanders in buckets under my bed for as long as it took my mother to discover them and send me off to return them from wherever they were found. A few years ago I saw a video online of someone holding a tarantula. I remember being completely enamoured with its look and movements, I knew right then that I wanted to own one. I spent the next few years subjecting everyone to online videos and what I liked to call ‘fun facts’ about tarantulas. I ended up purchasing a Chilean Rose, grammastolarosea, which I held once and then never again after I saw how fast she could move. I am not afraid of spiders, aside from water spiders as they are terrifying. This general interest led me to writing about spiders. I wanted to know everything I could about them, and through that I wrote these stories.

Did you write the stories independently or with a collection in mind? 

I wrote the first one, Spider Inside, as a single story with no thought of turning it into a collection. At the same time as I was working on that I was slowly adding toHome Sweet Home, a story that I had been trying to finish for a couple of years, the original spider story and also my first completed attempt at something darker. After I had those two stories I thought that maybe I could write some more and see if anyone would be interested in publishing them as a collection.

Who are your influences? 

I read a lot from different genres and different writers and I am sure I am influenced by them all in some way. I love Stephen King - he is amazing to me and his short stories are mind blowing. But I also read Raymond Carver and Lynn Coady and Hunter S. Thompson, to name a few. I will say that it was reading a collection by Jonathan Ames, The Double Life is Twice as Good: Essays and Fiction, that really started me writing. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to try it out for myself.

What attracts you to short stories as a form of writing? 

I think short stories are powerful. I love being able to start and finish reading something in one sitting, although writing them can take a while longer. I like to read and create stories that are like pieces or snippets of something, whether a situation or a thought or a feeling. I don’t know that I always consciously set out to write a short story, I think it’s more that I start to write something and go until I feel it is finished, or until I can’t stand to work on it anymore. Maybe I am just not driven enough or developed enough to create longer works. I would like to write a full length novel one day, but I think short stories will always be a preference for me.

Do you have a 'writing process'? 

I write when I can and when I feel like doing it. I try and write every day, even if it’s something I won’t ever look at again. I would like to adopt a strict routine where I write so many words a day, whether I want to or not, but that hasn’t happened yet. I usually know when a day will have writing in it, it’s sort of like an itch - I feel that I have to do it and I want to do it. I do have a notebook and pen on hand in case inspiration finds me, although that always seems to be at the most inconvenient time and I don’t always write the idea down.

How do you feel about online publishing?

I think online publishing is a win for everyone, the writers and readers, it allows for greater exposure and accessibility. Still, there is always the question of quality. It is easier to be published nowadays. I am thankful for that in a way, but it’s a double edged sword for those works that I wrote way back when and am now a bit ashamed of. In the end I think making something, like getting published, available to a wider range of people is a positive.

Are you working on anything new at the moment? 

I have a ton of unfinished works in a folder in an online account that I am always chipping away at. I would like to do a chapbook with a few of the pieces, and I have a longer horror story I would like to see turned into a novella. I feel like I am perpetually starting and abandoning stories only to rediscover them later.