Book – The Lake

Philip HarrisBooksLeave a Comment

I’m a sucker for bookshops, I struggle to leave one without buying something – so much so that I now try to avoid even going inside one if I can help it. A few years ago, before I became so disciplined, I was browsing randomly through a London bookshop when I happened upon a table stacked high with all manner of books. They were part of a three-for-two or buy-one-get-one-free or some other offer I couldn’t resist so I started digging through the piles of books, looking for something that might pique my interest. Nestled among the thrillers and crime novels were a handful of strange little books by a Japanese author called Banana Yoshimoto. Apart from the name, the books stood out because they were very simply designed – mostly a solid colour, pink or yellow or maroon, with a single Japanese character on the front. They were also quite expensive for such small books. I’ve got a soft spot for Japanese literature so I took advantage of the offer to pick up a handful of these strange little books, along with a couple by Haruki Murakami that were in the same sale. When I read them, I was … Read More

Book – Idols & Cons

Philip HarrisBooksLeave a Comment

Not much to report on the writing front – most of this week has been spent on my day job or playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. However, I did finish S. S. Michaels’ debut novel – Idols & Cons – a dark and twisted trip through the self-obsessed lives of three characters – Jake, Damien and Patrick. Jake/John is a fifteen year old drug dealer with artistic sensibilities who accidentally witnesses a murder; Damien is the lead singer of a boy band who accidentally kills a groupie and Patrick is a local artist who accidentally finds a way to achieve the notoriety he’s always craved. All three characters want their slice of success and they’re quite happy to climb over each other to get it. The book starts quickly and builds inexorably towards its climax, piling on drugs, music, violence and treachery along the way. There’s some strong imagery in the book, all of it dark and if you’re not comfortable with drugs, violence and artistically dismembered corpses, skip this book. That said, although there’s some gruesome moments, the story skirts neatly around the edges of the more graphic elements and avoids devolving into gratuitous gore. There’s also touches of humour and … Read More

Book – Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits

Philip HarrisBooksLeave a Comment

There’s something wrong with Cate Gardner. If you don’t believe me, try reading Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits. Clearly, something in her imagination is connected backwards or upside down or inside out. Yes, that’s it – something in her brain has been connected inside out so that all the bizarre, twisted thoughts normal people keep trapped inside their skulls come leaking out onto the page. It’s the only explanation. But that’s a good thing. The twenty four stories in this unsettling collection are some of the most deliciously skewed stories I’ve read in some time. In his introduction, Nathaniel Lambert likens Cate Gardner’s writing to Lewis Carroll and that comparison is probably apt. You can never be quite sure what you’ll find when you turn the page and almost every story seems to have its own brand of sinister undercurrent. Even the stories where the sinister is front and center have another layer of sinister underlying the first. My favourite stories were Cold Coffee & Curious Things (a dark tale of a girl called Alice and the mysterious visitors that keep dropping by the hospital room she’s trapped in), Parasol Dance with the Chalkstripe Man (a girl auditions for a high wire … Read More

Out Now – So Long, and Thanks for All the Brains

Philip HarrisAnthologies, Books, Out Now, StoriesLeave a Comment

The new anthology – So Long, and Thanks for All the Brains is now available on Amazon. In it you’ll find my story – The Z Word – plus fifty other tales of the undead. Here’s the full table of contents: Remembering Human – Bint Arab Necropolis Burning – Robert Forrester Blissfully Ignorant – Michael C. Dick An Undead Night to Remember – K. A. Masters Quality of Life – T. Fox Dunham Remember Me – Kenneth E. Olson Undead Surveillance – Jason Papke Oh, the Dreadful Wind & Rain – Richard Jay Goldstein The Secret to Survival – T. L. Barrett Mikey – Theresa Derwin The Beginning of the End – Jack Bantry Old Louisville – Bruce L. Priddy The Return of Dale Corby – Jonathan Wood For Audrey – Nicky Peacock The Army of Al-Din – Douglas Moore Zombies are Dead – Iain Rob Wright Fractions – Dale Elster Complete Ignorance – Michael C. Dick Diary of Gerhard Koblenz – Trevor Smith The Z Word – Philip Harris A Quiet Night, a Perfect End – Annie Neugebauer The Day Danny McAllister Decided to be a Hero – Matt Nord Dry Rot – Jamal K. Luckett The Food of Love … Read More

Book – Remains of the Dead

Philip HarrisBooksLeave a Comment

I finished Ian McKinnon’s Remains of the Dead last week and I’ve got somewhat mixed feelings about it. I certainly enjoyed reading it, but not as much as the first book – Domain of the Dead. The two books are closely related. Both books start at the same point although with slightly different perspectives. Several years into the zombie apocalypse, a group of survivors unexpectedly encounters a military helicopter on a research mission. The helicopter does not have room for both the crew and the survivors and is forced to leave some of them behind to be rescued on a return trip. It’s at this point that the novels diverge. Domain of the Dead follows the helicopter back to a military research ship and the events that follow. Remains of the Dead stays in the zombie infested city with a two soldiers, a small baby and her father and the obligatory infected survivor. Obviously these are zombie tales and they don’t stray too far from the familiar corpse riddled paths that dozens of films and now books have tread before them but that’s not a bad thing. I found Domain of the Dead a more compelling story, with a dash more originality … Read More