Monday, 10 November 2014

Péter Zilahy's The Last Window Giraffe

Here's an extract from Péter Zilahy's The Last Window Giraffe.  A brilliant book, well worth tracking down and reading the whole thing. 

Friday, 7 November 2014

Monday, 27 October 2014

Happy 500th blog post!

Here we are at our 500th blog post. This seems as good a time as any to reflect on this blog, a ramshackle addition to the Philistine Press website. 

Since its launch in 2010, has received approx. 400,000 page hits, mainly direct ebook downloads. (This stat doesn't include our modest success on Smashwords, Feedbooks, iBooks and Barnes and Noble among other platforms.) I'll have to start practicing my cartwheels for when we pass the half million mark. 

Philistine Friendly has received roughly 10% of this figure, which is the way things should be, considering that much more work has gone into Philistine Press than this blog. 
I'd like to think Philistine Press is the best non-profit ebook publisher in the world. By contrast, Philistine Friendly is by no means the best blog in the world, neither is it intended to be. It's like a randomly-selected busker who's won a competition to be the support act for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (my favourite band, in case you were wondering). 

Let's not be too harsh though. As creator and chief contributor to this blog, I think it's pretty fucking cool. Here's to the next 500 posts, and the next 35,000 hits. 

Frank Burton

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Blue / Orange

An ace BBC film based on the Joe Penhall play.  Great writing, great performances.  

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Rappahannick Review

Take a look at this first rate online magazine - a great discovery: 

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

Review - Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

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.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Stephen Campbell

A slideshow of Stephen Campbell's work is featured on the BBC's Your Paintings pages, which includes this picture, The Emotional Detectives:

Monday, 24 March 2014

Little Kid - River of Blood

Another great album by Little Kid...

Bandcamp link 

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Dream Song 14 by John Berryman (1969)

Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) ‘Ever to confess you’re bored
means you have no

Inner Resources.’ I conclude now I have no  
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
Peoples bore me,
literature bores me, especially great literature,  
Henry bores me, with his plights & gripes  
as bad as achilles,

who loves people and valiant art, which bores me.  
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag  
and somehow a dog
has taken itself & its tail considerably away
into mountains or sea or sky, leaving          
behind: me, wag.

Monday, 17 March 2014


I'm not much of a Tweeter, but it's difficult to resist the#overheard hashtag. 

Highlights from the Philistine Press Twitter feed over the last couple of years include: 

'...I even had to take my trousers off. I mean, what did they expect me to be hiding in my trousers?'

 'I saw that bloke who dresses as a woman - Dame Enda Everage - but he was dressed as a man. Small world, eh?'

'Is it The SUREshank Redemption?' / 'No, it's SHAWshank.' / 'SHOREshank?' / 'No.'

 Man offering advice to American tourist about where to eat in London: 'Oxford Street has everything you want - KFC, McDonalds...'

Tourist replies: 'We're only in London for a short amount of time so we have a narrow fish and chip window...'

'The guy had a ladyboy tattoo and an Elvis quiff but he was normal apart from that...'

'...You couldn't see the girl because she had a completely white face.'

'White shirt, black tie. You can wear either black or very dark grey. I ain't wearing a bow tie - that's fucked up shit.'

 'I went through it with an absolute tooth comb...'

'I'm pretty sure the only thing I've seen in his rucksack are diarrhoea tablets.'

'You found me. You chose me. There's only one me. What can I do?'

'Don't get me wrong, I've got no problem with women vicars. Anyone can do the job regardless of age, sex, colour or creed.’

‘I never liked his solo stuff. I went off him after he left The Jackson Five.’

‘We're not like normal students. We eat salmon!’

‘Hey! Fizzy tea!’

'He had a cleft palate because of a stab wound when he was 17. He said 'I'm a really good kisser.''

'It tasted fucking horrible at first so I drank four or five cups in a row. You get used to it after a while.'

'Do you know there's a certain time at night where it's illegal to stop at red lights? You get fined and everything.'

'I'm just on my way to meet one and a half Germans.'

Girl reading newspaper: 'Why am I looking at the suduko? I don't even know what that is!'

Child on the bus singing Fireman Sam theme: 'Walking down the boozy street, greeting people that he meets...'

Young girl to father: 'Do you know, dad, whenever you smoke, someone in the world dies?'

'How can the minimum be higher than the maximum?'

Tourist on Waterloo Bridge: 'Too many fucking landmarks...'

‘What’s a rectum?’

Monday, 10 March 2014

Don't Panic - The Truth About Population

It's rare to see something on the TV that genuinely changes the way you see the world, but this documentary did it for me. Sadly the whole thing isn't available online, but it's summarised neatly in this article. A more in depth view is provided by the Open University.  

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Evie and Guy by Dan Holloway - a review in binary

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More about the novel here

Monday, 24 February 2014

Torley - Glitch Piano

Congratulations to anyone who's managed to listen to this 3-hour masterpiece in one sitting. I recommend playing this in short, sharp bursts.

Bandcamp link 

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Robo - Fundación Robo

Best album I've heard in a long time...

Here's the Bandcamp page

Monday, 17 February 2014

Thursday, 13 February 2014

CarMen . . . The Opera

Broadcast on KPFK, Close Radio, November 22, 1976, 13 min. 22 sec.
An opera in three acts featuring an orchestra of automobiles.

Listen to it here.

Monday, 10 February 2014

MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey)

I never thought I'd find myself recommending a documentary series presented by an economist about the positive benefits of capitalism, but this is fascinating stuff... 

Monday, 3 February 2014

Neon's Battery Pack

Neon Magazine's call for submissions of 75-word stories is nothing new in itself but I very much like the idea of the stories being published together on a single sheet of paper. Nice work. 

I expect Neon's usual high standards when this appears: 

Welcome to Night Vale

It's already a "cultural phenomenon" so this recommendation is a little late, but if you're yet to discover Welcome to Night Vale, check it out.  

You could possibly describe Welcome to Night Vale as a comedy show, but I'd prefer to see it as an ongoing work of carefully-crafted weird fiction. 

It's brilliant.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Usher Gallery, Lincoln

Stumbled across the Usher Gallery, which currently has an exhibition called Modern Masters, with prints by Dali, Picasso, Matisse and Warhol. As cool as that was, the highlight was the gallery itself, which contains surprises from all over the place and all over time, including this Lowry painting, currently tucked away down a small corridor: 

Monday, 27 January 2014

You, The Living

An excerpt from Roy Andersson's extraordinary film, You, The Living...

Thursday, 23 January 2014

New Ebook - Spiders Inside by Lacy Lalonde

Lacy Lalonde’s Spiders Inside is a somewhat unnerving short story collection about our relationship with arachnids.

Monday, 20 January 2014


Brand new website dedicated to short stories and their writers, masterminded by Tania Hershman:

Much respect. 

Raymond Carver

Josh Jones's overview of Raymond Carver's work sums it up very well (an appropriate treatment for an author famous for summing things up).

This post on Open Culture also features three audio versions of Carver's stories. Brilliant.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Pigeons at Dawn by Charles Simic

Extraordinary efforts are being made 
To hide things from us, my friend. 
Some stay up into the wee hours 
To search their souls. 
Others undress each other in darkened rooms. 

The creaky old elevator 
Took us down to the icy cellar first 
To show us a mop and a bucket 
Before it deigned to ascend again 
With a sigh of exasperation. 

Under the vast, early-dawn sky 
The city lay silent before us. 
Everything on hold: 
Rooftops and water towers, 
Clouds and wisps of white smoke. 

We must be patient, we told ourselves, 
See if the pigeons will coo now 
For the one who comes to her window 
To feed them angel cake, 
All but invisible, but for her slender arm.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Gay marriage in prison

I've been doing some research for a story I'm writing about gay relationships in prison.

I missed this story first time round.  No doubt someone's going to make a film about this at some point - I look forward to seeing it.  

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Death in Venice by Thomas Mann

I began serialising this classic text on this blog, but for boring technical reasons the process of doing so has proven rather difficult, so here's a link to the complete book which can be downloaded in various formats through