Thursday, August 29, 2019


Slap-on-the-Wrist Stories

My new book has just been published. Copies arrived for me today.

SLAP-ON-THE-WRIST STORIES is a selection of tales controlled by numbers.

For example, 'Postcards From the Hedge' is told in 50 postcards from 50 different animals and each postcard is exactly 50 words long... 'Trouble with Drabbles' is a story made up of 100 stories each 100 words long... 'Only Sixty-Nine Whims Away' consists of 69 chapters each 69 words long... 'Ten of Our Trombones are Missing' consists of 66 chapters each 66 words long.

This book is therefore an example of OuLiPo writing.

The title of the book was suggested to me by fantasy writer James Bennett after I had expressed my enthusiasm for Kawabata's Palm-of-the-Hand Stories, one of my favourite short story collections of all time.

My book is available on Amazon and elsewhere in both paperback and ebook editions.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019


New Collection -- only ten copies left

Only ten copies left of the ultra-limited deluxe collector's edition of my next book ARMS AGAINST A SEA are left for pre-order. Seek out and contact Raphus Press if you are interested in securing one of these remaining ten. The same publisher did a wonderful job with my Mombasa Madrigal book.

This limited edition has distinctive production values. It is a perfect square in format (7.87 × 7.87 in.), 90 pages, with a exclusive, painfully handcrafted Japanese binding style. Only 25 will ever be printed. Fifteen have already been pre-ordered.

Friday, June 21, 2019


Best British Fantasy

Just received my complimentary copies of this anthology that contains one of my stories. I have been in "Best Ofs" before, but not very often because the main gatekeepers in the genre world have tended to be against me for various reasons.

But time passes, things change, the rusty old gatekeepers fall into disuse and new ones take their place. This is always the way. The writing business isn't like the famous Kafka parable. Gatekeepers do change. Take heart, mes amis!

Other news. Looks like I am able to announce my new ultra-limited collection, ARMS AGAINST A SEA (and Other Troubles), right now. The print run is only 25 copies in a handcrafted Japanese binding.

This book is going to be so scarce that it might as well be a rumour rather than a thing... Pre-orders are being taken and for further details and the chance to buy, please follow this link to the page that has just appeared on the website of the Brazilian publisher, Raphus Press.

Yet more news. My big book of tribute stories to authors I admire, THE SENILE PAGODAS, is in the final stages of preparation. With luck I will be able to announce further details very soon :-)

I thank you for listening!

Wednesday, April 03, 2019


Exploits of Engelbrecht -- for free!

Here's something you can't afford to miss. For the next five days the cult classic THE EXPLOITS OF ENGELBRECHT is free as a download for Kindle. I have made the ebook free for the maximum time allowed. Published in 1950 in a limited edition, this book features one of the great fantastika characters of all time, the dwarf surrealist boxer Engelbrecht, and charts his bizarre adventures as the champion athlete of the Surrealist Sportsman's Club.


Take advantage of this offer and spread the word, my friends! :-)

Monday, March 25, 2019


Mombasa in Paperback

The ultra-limited deluxe handcrafted edition of Mombasa Madrigal published in Brazil by Raphus Press (see blog post below) sold out very quickly. It seems likely to become a rare collector's item in the future. I have now sized the opportunity of having the book turned into a paperback at a very low price. This paperback in fact includes an extra story that isn't in the deluxe edition.

There will never be an ebook version of this book. Some books, for some reason, don't seem appropriate for conversion into ebooks. There is only the ultra-limited edition that has sold out, and now this paperback edition that is available from Amazon and elsewhere.

I am especially fond of Mombasa Madrigal. I wrote most of it when I was in Africa last year. It is a collection of stories introduced by a novelette that is a fusion of memoir, travelogue and speculation. The fictions that follow complement and amplify the impact. Outrigger canoes with crab claw sails ride the currents of the Indian Ocean into oblivion, the mountains of Kenya loom high over grounded ships miles from the sea, pirates dream impossibilities and scheme them into reality along the Swahili Coast. And always Mombasa, the gateway to East Africa, pulsing endlessly in the heat of the night...

That's the promotional blurb! Hope you enjoy it if you buy it, and thanks for listening :-)


* Mombasa Madrigal (speculative non-fiction novella),
* In African Airspace (short tale written on an airplane while flying over Africa),
* Nothing Will Happen (the very last 'Captain Dangleglum' story),
* Noah the Second (bonus story not included in original edition),
* Sailing to Port Manitou (one of my personal favourites among my short stories).

Saturday, February 02, 2019


Mombasa Madrigal

My new book is coming out very soon. In fact it is already here. I just haven't received a copy yet. This is because it has been published far away, in Brazil. It is also about a faraway place, a different faraway place, Mombasa on the Swahili Coast.

But in fact Mombasa will not be so far from me in a couple of days, as I am going back to Africa. I can't wait! My new book is called Mombasa Madrigal and Other African Escapades. It is published by Raphus Press and this is the ultra-limited handcrafted edition. There will be very few copies ever in existence, no more than thirty-eight. Yes! a limited edition of only 38 copies.

Pre-orders are being taken right now. There will be a paperback edition in the future, I am sure, but not before this ultra-limited edition has sold out. I doubt very much there will ever be an ebook edition, as the book contains photographs, diagrams and tables, and those are too difficult to format for ebooks.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019


The Nostalgia That Never Was

My first book of 2019 is also the very last project I completed last year. I started writing it without any idea that it was going to become a book. A short piece of flash fiction seemed to demand another along similar lines, and so on, until eventually there were so many that I had to give them cohesion and a frame. This is exactly the same way that my book World Muses was created. The frame is partly inspired by the one Italo Calvino invented for his Invisible Cities.

Whereas World Muses was like Invisible Cities but with women instead of cities, The Nostalgia That Never Was concerns ghosts instead of women. It is clear to me that there will probably be a third book to complete what will then be a triptych, and this third book will surely be about machines rather than ghosts. But there's no rush. Maybe that will be a project for next year.

In the meantime, The Nostalgia That Never Was is ready and is available on Amazon as a paperback and also as an ebook. I am very pleased with the way it has turned out. Sometimes a book turns out not only better than one had expected, but even better than one had hoped. This is such a book. When I wrote it I had no conception of how it might flow as an integral whole. But I think it has worked out very well indeed.

A brief summary:

"Marco Polo is travelling again in the service of Kublai Khan but this time he wanders off the path and ends up in an unknown part of the world. In his solitude he becomes an emperor of dreams. The ghosts of prehistory visit him, and the phantoms of later ages and the future too. He even finds himself in the unexpected position of haunting himself. Only his very last spectral guest can know everything that is essential, and that last guest may well be you, the reader."

Thanks for listening!

Sunday, December 30, 2018


Review of 2018

It's the end of the year again and because I have given up doing 'end of the year reviews' (supposedly) I'll keep this very brief. I'm sure other people, including yourself, have better things to do at this time than read end-of-the-year reviews.

I began the year in Africa in idyllic surroundings (in the uplands of Kirinyaga in Kenya) and with luck I will be spending more and more time there in the future and in other parts of that continent (Mombasa is one of my favourite places in the world). But my travels aren't really relevant to a blog concerned with literary matters.

So what did I achieve in 2018 regarding my writing efforts?

Books Published = 3
* How Many Times?
* The Honeymoon Gorillas
* The Early Bird Catches the Worm but the Wise Worm Stays in Bed

Books Accepted = 2
* Mombasa Madrigal
* The Court of Very Serious but Fictional Crimes

(With another few books currently in negotiation including Arms Against a Sea, Comfy Rascals and The Wistful Wanderings of Perceval Pitthelm).

Stories Accepted = ?
I don't keep count of these but it's about 30

Stories Written = 28

Articles Written = 11

Plays Written = 5 (only started writing plays in the last month of the year, so I am very pleased with this total).

This brings my total of books published up to 47 since the year 1995.
909 stories in total since the year 1989.
22 articles in total since last year (when I started again from the beginning).
Next year I am hoping to have more books published (of course) including my first non-fiction book (Bullshit with Footnotes), but I am also hoping to have at least one of my plays performed on stage, radio or even as a film. We shall see :-)

As for reading... I read an incredible amount of superb fiction and non-fiction including Malgudi Days by R.K. Narayan, one of my favourite ever short story collections, and No Picnic on Mount Kenya by Felice Benuzzi, one of my favourite true stories of adventure.

But two books among the dozens and dozens stood out. The Short Plays of Harold Pinter, which inspired me to begin writing plays again (I had wanted to write plays when I was much younger), and Palm-of-the-Hand Stories by Yasunari Kawabata, certainly a supreme achievement in the art of the very short story.

That's all. Onward to the year 2019 !!!!! :-)

Saturday, December 08, 2018


Better the Devil for Free

To celebrate the coming of Christmas, my ebook of 100 ghostly, monstrous and supernatural stories BETTER THE DEVIL is free until tomorrow.

This ebook consists of many of my previous chapbooks collected together, including my very first chapbook Romance with Capsicum. It includes flash fiction as well as longer tales.

It can be obtained from Amazon by clicking on this link:


Hope you enjoy :-)

Friday, November 16, 2018


Eyelidiad for Free

My early fantasy novella EYELIDIAD is available to be downloaded to kindle for free over the next three days. Click on the following link to obtain it:

EYELIDIAD for free

The novella was written in one month back in 1995 and published by Tanjen Ltd the following year. It actually forms one third of my planned novel The Clown of the New Eternities, but whether that novel will ever be finished or not, I can't say.

The first two parts are done but I have been dragging my feet over the third part for twenty years!

Anyway, here is Eyelidiad. Hope you enjoy! :-) :-)

Saturday, October 20, 2018


The Early Bird Catches the Worm but the Wise Worm Stays in Bed

My new book has just become available. It's a story collection divided into two equal parts. The first half features a selection of my early stories; the second half contains samples of my more recent work.

There are 46 stories in total in the paperback edition (the ebook version omits the last story) and the early stories tend to be fairly straightforward while the later ones tend to be more experimental.

It's no secret that I am working on a sequence of exactly 1000 stories in a grand story cycle. Each story works as a standalone tale but is also thematically, systematically and metafictionally linked to all the others.

I have now written 905 of these stories and it has taken twenty-nine years to do so. The idea is that one day the 1000 tale sequence will be completed and every one of the stories will be available in one of my books.

The Early Bird Catches the Worm but the Wise Worm Stays in Bed was initially put together in order to gather up some of my uncollected early stories.

While doing this, it occurred to me that it might be worthwhile to juxtapose them with samples of stories I have written in the past few years.

More details about the contents of the collection can be found on the relevant page of my Aardvark Caesar blog, which is actually a complete catalogue of all my books.

This new collection can be ordered from Amazon here and also from other online bookstores.

The ebook edition can be found here.

Monday, September 24, 2018


Free Cats

To celebrate my birthday I am making the ebook of my book of cat stories and poems free for the next five days. Just go to Amazon and download it for free!


Cats, cats and more cats! One can never have too many of them.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018


Free Ebook

For the next five days only my collection FLASH IN THE PANTHEON is available for free on Kindle. This book was originally published back in 2014. It features 123 stories, the longest of which is 999 words and the shortest only 6 words long.

Flash in the Pantheon for FREE

Click on the link above to download it from Amazon UK. For Amazon outlets in other countries, simply search for the book on your Amazon. Hope you enjoy!

Flash fiction is a style of literature I especially enjoy. For example, Yasunari Kawabata's Palm-of-the-Hand Stories, a volume of flash fictions he wrote over a sixty year period, is one of my favourite short story collections. I regard it as inspiring. I enjoy reading flash fiction and I enjoy writing it.

Thursday, July 19, 2018


The Honeymoon Gorillas

Two years ago I began writing a story that turned out to be the first chapter of a novel, a weird Western that became very weird indeed. I had the title The Honeymoon Gorillas in my head for years before finding a use for it. Gorillas play only an indirect part in the book but it is an important one nonetheless. They are always-present but never seen.

I have wanted to write a weird Western for a long time. This urge was considerably amplified by the weird Westerns of two great writers that I enjoyed immensely, The Hawkline Monster by Richard Brautigan and The Place of Dead Roads by William Burroughs. Both have been an inspiration on my own novel to some extent.

The Honeymoon Gorillas has now been published by Bizarro Pulp Press. It's available from Amazon and other online bookstores. A brief resume of the novel follows:

"Spud Gunn is the son of Hopalong Beech and Una Gunn. When his parents split up he begins his travels through the West, a place of myths, tall stories and strangeness. On his journey he has many peculiar encounters with the characters who inhabit the West and he begins to suspect that something is not quite right about the world he is living in. Could it be that this West is just a simulation? If so, for what purpose was it created? Before he finds the answer to this and other questions, he will have to evade the unusual attentions of a troupe of lethal roving actors, the schemes of fake orientals, the catastrophic effects of asteroid strikes and the fury of a giant who is one of the original gods of the West and who has been assembled from his scattered parts in order to break down the walls of existence and reveal the truths beyond.... But what does this have to do with gorillas? Rather more than it may seem to the casual eye!"

This novel was one of the most fun projects I have ever worked on. In fact I will go further and say that it was the most fun I've had working on a book.

This very morning I received my author's copies, so I decided to take some thematically appropriate photos that might help to promote the novel. This is one of them.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


How Many Times?

My new book has just been published and this one is a little different from all the others, even though all the others are already rather different from each other. It is different because it's a collection of experimental OuLiPo fictions. I have talked about OuLiPo many times over the past thirty years. It is a type of writing that is still relatively unknown in the English writing world.

My book contains a selection of OuLiPo works that are divided into categories. In the first section, there are stories in which I applied simple arithmetical rules to the creation of the texts. These are stories that consist of x sections, each section with x paragraphs, each paragraph having x sentences, each sentence made up of x words. The value of  'x' increases from one to seven, therefore the lengths of the texts rapidly increases too. The texts are individual pieces, yet they also work together to create a sum greater than the parts.

The second section features stories with a much more complex structure. OuLiPo is about the application of logical constraints that must be adhered to strictly in order to stimulate the imagination and push the creative impulse in unexpected directions. There are many official logical constraints and in the past I have applied several of these to various tales. But I also wanted to invent my own constraint and thus I devised one that I call "greater or equal to 2n plus one" because it consists of story grids that can be read coherently across each row, down every column and along the main diagonals, but it is also possible that other unplanned stories exist on other diagonals or in meandering courses through the grids. Some of the more advanced grids are asymmetrical and present even greater opportunities for readings paths.

The third section is a logico-erotic story in which the workings of progressively more intricate logic gates control the action of the sexual partners who are the objects of the study. I wanted to combine two seemingly irreconcilable functions, namely sensuality and logic. The boolean algebra that determines the outcome of each encounter therefore acquires a physicality that is surely quite new and unexpected.

My book can be ordered directly from the publisher here or from Amazon and other online bookshops.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


Black Infinity Magazine

I have just returned from Africa, where I plan to move permanently within two years, but that's something that deserves a blog post all to itself.

In the meantime, I will report that my novelette 'Swallowing the Amazon' has just appeared in the second issue of a new magazine devoted to weird fiction that is inspired by the pulp writers of the 1920s, 30s and 40s.

Black Infinity is a quality production from a publisher who has produced some extremely nice volumes in the past (including a deluxe edition of my novel Engelbrecht Again).

My novelette is an adventure set in a jungle that features explorers and dinosaurs, but I tried hard to make it different from the usual run of 'Lost World' style stories.

My hope is that Black Infinity will sell well and will thrive. That's a difficult thing to do in today's market where so many magazines and journals that publish fiction tend to go out of business after only a few issues. In other words, if you enjoy pulp weird fiction, please consider buying BI#2 (or the first issue for that matter).

It is available from Amazon here. Each issue will be themed and the subject of #2 is 'Blobs, Globs, Slime and Spores'. The magazine also contains some classic reprints by tremendous authors from the past.

Thursday, December 07, 2017


Literary Review 2017

My literary review of the year is generally only concerned with my personal favourites of all the books I have read this year and doesn't have anything to do with my own writing. This is the way it should be. I can announce, however, that 2017 has turned out to be my most productive fiction writing year ever. Every year for the past two decades I have attempted to write a minimum of 100,000 words of fiction annually. Some years I have failed to do this, but generally I have met my target and exceeded it by a certain wordage. The first time I broke the 200,000 word mark, I was astonished. The following year I produced 240,000 words and that was a record I never expected to beat. That was in 2010.

Ironically, I decided to make last year the final year in which I worried about meeting my self-imposed target of one hundred thousand words. I just planned to write instead without counting and let the final total take care of itself. But for some reason, this year has been especially fruitful, maybe because I took the pressure off myself, I don't know. I have just reached a total wordage of 241,000 words of fiction, and this doesn't take into account that 2017 was the year I also decided to launch myself into writing non-fiction seriously. However, I certainly don't intend to keep up this pace next year. There is no need. I am only 120 stories short of finishing my grand cycle of 1000 stories, and slowing the pace seems the right thing to do at this stage.

I am also thinking about detaching my novels from the cycle and having them as a separate set of works, and concentrating more on them in the future. I have several novels that are in various stages of completion, plus I have ideas for others, and I don't want the arbitrary task of writing short stories to obstruct their realization. None of this is going to be of much interest to most of you out there, but keeping the numbers in mind helps me to determine where I am and how far there is left to go. And although I am prolific in comparison with many writers, I am not at all prolific compared with others. It's all relative! I ought to make a list of projects I intend to work on in the near future and then post the list on my blog. I will probably try to do this quite soon.

Now then! The best books I read in 2017 were as follows:

On Leave - Daniel Anselme
A truly remarkable novel about three soldiers on leave in Paris in the middle of the Algerian War. Written in 1957 it describes a sequence of disillusioned but intense experiences in a prose that is simultaneously hallucinatory and crisp. This is almost a perfect novel and one that will surely linger long in my memory. Each episode and every scene is absolutely correct in its place. Anselme's writing style is like a cross between the styles of Camus and Simenon, and the result isn't a mess, as a blending of two such incompatibles ought to be, but a melodic, philosophical and yet streetwise concoction that flows along at a heady pace. Too contained to be described as a picaresque, the novel nonetheless progresses from one rejected 'lesson' to another, as the three soldiers fail to readjust to the life they once knew. This is an angry, sensitive, enthralling, disturbing, political fantasia that never ceases to be brutally and beautifully real.

The Fugitive - Pramoedya Ananta Toer
A remarkable novel by a writer I only discovered a couple of months ago. This is the first Indonesian work of literature that I have read. I found it to be fascinating and compelling. The novel was Toer's first and is set at the end of the Japanese occupation of Indonesia. There are four long chapters that resemble acts in a play. The action proceeds fluidly despite the very formal structural arrangement of the work. There is a small cast of characters who interact, who ponder and present dilemmas of conscience and determination. The story is about loyalty, betrayal, redemption, liberation and tragedy. I am definitely planning to read more of Toer's work. In style and tone it is quite unlike the work of any other writer  I have encountered.

The Collected Short Stories - Jean Rhys
One of the best short story collections I have ever read. This was also my introduction to the work of Jean Rhys and I will now certainly seek out her other books. There is a lot of variety here and the stories span a wide range of time, but they can be placed into four broad categories. (1) Stories set in the bohemian Paris of the interwar age, (2) Stories set in London before and during the Blitz, (3) Stories set in the West Indies, (4) Stories set in the countryside (of England or other European countries). The stories set in Paris and London tend to be equally about impoverished narrators trying to survive in their environments, but those in Paris are far less bleak than those in London. The London stories really demonstrate the appallingly claustrophobic social prejudices prevalent at the time and they do this as devastatingly as the stories of Somerset Maugham. In the Parisian stories, on the other hand, there is always something uplifting happening even when there is little hope in general... The West Indies stories are my favorites and the tropics are so deeply ingrained in the heart of this writer that they seem to be in the background even in the stories that aren't set there. There is always a yearning, a craving, for the light and brightness and intensity of the Caribbean, despite the fact that paradise isn't always paradise under the surface and Jean Rhys makes the reader acutely aware of this fact. As for the stories set in the countryside, these include a remarkable story which is a semi-autobiographical account of a stay in a remote cottage with three other guests, including the composer Peter Warlock; and a magnificent story of escape to Prague in a motor car just after WWI in the company of a husband who is a crook. Jean Rhys tends to be better at longer lengths. These two pieces are picaresque, somewhat rambling in structure, rendered in a prose style that is unusual, highly rhythmic and simultaneously melancholic and invigorating, not at all like the standard writers in English of her time.

Fever - J.M.G. Le Clézio
One of those occasional books that changes what you believe is possible in fiction and thus one of the best short story collections I have ever read. Le Clézio's incandescent style is the first notable aspect of his work. It is immensely affecting, melodically and rhythmically, and has a powerful momentum. It is not dissimilar to that of J.G. Ballard in the sense that it seems geometric in itself even when not engaged in some literal or metaphorical geometric analysis of the material under consideration at any time, but it is more philosophical and looser too; ultimately there is a tight control on digressions and tangents but they are held at the end of a long leash. Or perhaps we can say that the stories are one large remarkable digression and tangent. They are often picaresque or pseudo-picaresque accounts. The characters appear to ramble aimlessly from one situation to another, from one coordinate of spacetime to another, and only their confusion and curiosity remain unchanged along the way. There are four masterpieces among this collection of nines stories. None of them feature a conventional protagonist or anything in the way of orthodox characterization, plot or dialogue. None of them follow the standard patterns of story pacing or development. They are less like other fictions and more like chronicles of subjective experiences. The title story 'Fever' is a novelette or novella in which the distorted perspectives of a delirium sufferer are shown to be keys to unlocking the distorted nature of reality itself. 'The Day Beaumont Became Acquainted with his Pain' is about the telescoping of awareness due to a terrible toothache. 'The Walking Man' is the story of a journey that is spatially insignificant but metaphysically tremendous. 'A Day of Old Age' is about death, life, individuality, the merging of the substances that give us temporary form back into the environment. The last of these contains a nice metafictional touch in which Le Clézio urges the reader to take a break from reading and breathe deeply while appreciating the fact we are still alive, a gesture that shows more consideration for the existence of the reader than most fictive texts. Of the other five stories I would like to point out that 'The World is Alive' contains no human or animal characters at all. It is the story of a river from its source in the mountains all the way down to the sea. It is more like an essay than a story, an example of nature writing, and yet it is still a story, because this river is the character, a character as valid as any imaginary human being would be, and its journey is the most perfect of narratives because we already know and don't know at the same time what the progression and outcome will be. It is exactly the sort of story that confounds all the advice given by creative writing teachers on creative writing courses, the sort of story that shows there are no rules, there is only ingenuity.

A General Theory of Oblivion - José Eduardo Agualusa
One of the best novels I have encountered for ages. Magnificent in every way and exactly the kind of book that reminds me of how magical literature can be. So much of my favourite contemporary writing seems to be coming out of Africa. This is definitely in the top 10 of novels I have read in the past ten years. It is probably even in the top three... The tangled life-streams of the various characters interact beautifully and surprisingly with each other; the backdrop to the story is colourful, menacing and absolutely charged with history. José Eduardo Agualusa is clearly an extremely accomplished author indeed. I am awestruck and I certainly intend seeking out more of this writer's work.

The Journal of a Disappointed Man - W.N.P. Barbellion
One of the best books I have read this year and in fact one of the best books I have ever read. I believe that all readers who are interested in the human condition should read it. From the point of view of what it means to be a living person, it contains the spectrum of everything. Really amazing and I think it could be more than amazing: it could be an epiphany. It's one of the most quotable books I have ever read (as quotable as Cocteau; high praise indeed!) and also one of the most poignant. And it is totally relevant to everything that the philosophically-minded reader has probably been turning over in their own minds for years and years, our cosmic insignificance, the fact that life is terrible but worth living anyway, the nature of truth and falsity, etc, and because Barbellion goes through almost the whole range of possible feelings and views on every subject he raises, it feels like he has uploaded his soul onto the page and then we find that our own souls overlap with his at many points. It was a privilege to read this book, which I plucked at random from a library shelf, started reading with no special motivation but then with immense enthusiasm as I became completely captivated by the work.

Friday, November 24, 2017


Yule Do Nicely

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, please put a penny in the old man’s hat. Yes, but we first require more information about the goose, the penny and the hat. We can’t be too careful these days. How fat is the goose getting and what connection does it have with the old man? Is the goose getting so fat that it is likely to explode with disastrous results for the nation? How will paying the old man a penny prevent this outcome? The situation is unclear.

We are on more certain ground when it is explained that the following fictions have been assembled in their present form in order to celebrate the festive season. They include work from the span of the past quarter century. The first twenty-four tales form a weird advent calendar from December 1st to 24th. Then it is Christmas Day and time for the stocking and the twenty-eight little strange tales inside it. Merry Xmas!

This book is available as paperback and as an ebook from Amazon and elsewhere. It is priced very low. £2.99 for the print edition and 99p for the ebook. This is as it should be at this time of year...

I have added the title to the blog where I keep track of all my published books to date, where there is also information about the contents of each volume. This blog is called Aardvark Caesar and goes right back to my first published book, Worming the Harpy, more than twenty years ago.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


World Muses

I am delighted to announce publication of my latest book, World Muses, a collection of linked fictions that are about inspirational women from eighty different countries and cultures. Although it might be described as a story collection, in fact I regard it as more akin to an unorthodox novel. Indeed I personally see it as similar to Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, but with women instead of cities. And yet let's not misunderstand the purpose of my book. It is a celebration of diversity and difference rather than an array of libidinous exploits: each chapter (or story) generally features the woman as the victor, the active force, as well as the catalyst.

This book began, in fact, without any thought of writing the full-length work it has become. I merely wanted to write a few very short fictions ('palm of the hand stories' as Kawabata termed them) and so I wrote a short text inspired by a friend of mine who lives in Indonesia. This was followed by other short texts for other female friends. Soon I was ranging the world in my imagination and before long I was inventing characters as well as basing them on real people. I am delighted with the finished project, which the mighty Des Lewis is already subjecting to one of his real-time reviews. World Muses pleases me very much.

The book was accepted by Ex Occidente Press in Romania and they have produced a deluxe limited edition hardback that is one of the most beautifully produced volumes I have ever seen. There are only just over 100 copies available. Among the fictions there are some experimental texts that utilize unusual typographical layouts. These have been rendered perfectly in the hardback and for this I am very grateful to the publisher. It is surprising how often publishers seem incapable of handling experimental layouts properly. Ex Occidente are careful and considerate, among the finest publishers of luxury books currently working.

To make it available to a larger audience I have arranged for the production of a paperback version that is priced at very low cost. The ebook version is also extremely cheap. This is the way it should be. No paperback or ebook edition of a work can ever compare with a carefully designed and exquisitely manufactured hardback, of course, but not all of us have the funds to collect such tomes.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Salty Kiss Island

My new book has just been published, courtesy of Storm Constantine of Immanion Press. I am absolutely delighted with it, so delighted indeed that I have written this article to explain why I believe it's my best collection so far.

It is a collection of my fantastical love stories, 22 tales in total that were written over a period of 15 years. Two of the stories are novellas and one is a novelette, so the total wordage of the collection is just over 100,000 words.

The style of these stories is mostly what one might term 'magic realist' and I am happy with this definition, despite the vagueness of the term and the fact that not all the stories in the book are quite that way. They were inspired by real feelings and people, moods, circumstances, dreams and daydreams, music from tropical lands, writers such as Amado, Couto, Vian and Calvino (always Calvino) and a curious yearning for a different kind of life, and generally speaking they highlight my urge to break free from the narrative restrictions of the conventionally told anglophone story, whether it be mainstream or genre.

I feel that with this book I have reached a milestone on the admittedly lonely path of my writing career. I am not especially successful financially. It has been a struggle. But this book exists. I feel that something important has been validated...

The book is available at amazon and other online stores, and the magnificent Des Lewis has already begun one of his real time reviews of the stories within.

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Cloud Farming in Wales

I am delighted to report that my new novel has been published by Snuggly Books and is available both as a regular paperback and a very limited hardback. It can be obtained directly from the publisher (see link above) or from Amazon or many other online stores, and possibly in some real bookstores too (I don't know which ones yet, but maybe the legendary City Lights in San Francisco. The publisher mentioned that there was a chance that bookshop would stock copies).

My novel is a fantastical comedy set in Wales, and it is also a tribute to the writer Richard Brautigan whose Trout Fishing in America enthused me and taught me an approach to fiction that struck me as -- if not exactly new -- then differently accentuated, and it is an approach that appealed enormously to me. I wanted to write a book similar to his. Cloud Farming is my Trout Fishing. That's the idea anyway! The blurb I prepared for the novel runs as follows:

“In Wales it never stops raining. Or almost never. When it does stop raining from the sky, it rains from hearts instead. Indoors as well as outdoors, the people huddle in the endless drenchings, and over time they have evolved into aquatic creatures who only look and behave like men and women but aren’t really. There is a clue in the name of the country. Wales is a nation with no spot of dry land within its borders. Wales is an Atlantis that never stayed under but is just as wet. Crammed with mythical beings and happenings, Cloud Farming in Wales palpitates, germinates and extrapolates, but never evaporates, and the sodden heroes that wade and slosh through the mighty puddles of its pages are generally in search of a canoe."

The excellent Des Lewis has already completed one of his 'real time' reviews of this novel and it can be found by clicking on this link. I am extremely delighted with the way the book has turned out!

Saturday, April 29, 2017


Hardback Limited Edition

My new novel Cloud Farming in Wales is coming out soon. As well as the paperback there will be a limited hardback edition, limited in fact to only 60 copies, and this will be available to be ordered separately within the next few weeks.

In the meantime, both the paperback and limited edition hardback can be pre-ordered as part of a Snuggly Books bundle. There are two bundle offers, because all the books available as bundles come in the two different editions. More information will be posted here in the coming weeks...

Friday, March 24, 2017


Transition to Non-Fiction

I have lots of writing news, including information about a forthcoming novel and two story collections, but instead I am going to briefly talk about non-fiction writing.

The year 2017 is my Year Zero for non-fiction. Although I have written plenty of non-fiction in the past I never took it very seriously. I tended to do it as a chore rather than a pleasure. But now I am going over all my former pieces, adjusting them, rewriting them, getting them into much better shape. And I have also started writing new articles. This time I am putting as much effort into non-fiction as I do with my fiction. I intend one day to transition fully to a non-fiction writer.

Today I finished writing a article called, 'On Strawberries'. This article will hopefully be the opening piece in my first non-fiction book, which with luck will be called Logic and the Monsters. Although the article is ostensibly about strawberries it is also about higher dimensional geometries, Tantric yoga, warrior ethics, goblin markets, Malaysian girls and many other things. My scheme is to make unexpected connections between a very wide range of disciplines. There are lots of footnotes too. In some of my future articles, the footnotes will have end-notes that will also have footnotes*. * because that's the kind of man I am.

This is the list of subjects I am planning to write articles on (or already have). It's not a comprehensive list but good enough for the present purpose. It gives an idea of what my first non-fiction book might contain:

• Strawberries, the finest fruit
• The First Science Fiction Novel
• How every writer is their own favourite author
• Brexit: some thoughts on Europe
• Mazes, their symbolic meaning
• A most underrated writer, the work of Barrington Bayley
• When satire goes too far
• Parallel Universes, how even their non-existence will prove their existence
• Occam’s Razor, a new logical twist
• Alain Resnais, his films
• Why immortality accelerates time, an idea
• Life after death, a new way of looking at this question
• Kizomba, the most sensual dance
• Paradoxes, why they are so intriguing
• The Empathy Problem, some thoughts on empathy
• Mountaineering, a pure pursuit
• Coconuts, the floating food
• Jacques Tati, his films
• Penguin Café Orchestra, an appreciation
• Perpetual Motion, the joy of mechanical absurdity
• Logic and the monsters, an imaginary film script
• The hazards of being a pedestrian
• The perils of checking out women
• Three things I write about and three I don’t
• The Ultimate Existential Horror
• A logic flaw in the horror genre
• Walking through Portugal
• Predatory males, why they give real predators a bad name
• Italo Calvino, an appreciation
• Not in my name, usurpation through accidental nomenclature
• Unusual titles for stories
• The Workshop of Potential Literatures
• Desperate Straights, a logico-whimsical argument
• Some thoughts about Richard Dawkins
• The art and designs of Rodchenko
• Rules for an imaginary literary society
• The Poetry of William McGonagall
• The problem of evil, a possible solution
• Géza Csáth, his life and work
• Pierre Louys, his life, perversion and work
• Maurice Richardson, his neglected classic
• Romanticynicism, an outline for a new literary movement
• Magic Realism, what it might be
• What scares me, a personal list
• Metafiction, married a fiction, had lots of microfictions
• Stories never to be written
• John Sladek, an appreciation
• Creative writing classes, a few doubts about them
• Uranus, a planet neglected in science fiction
• Pretension, and what it really is
• Why songs are often illogical
• First band without the definite article in their name
• Rinky Dink Panther, Time Traveller

Saturday, February 04, 2017


The Seashell Contract

My 40th book has just been published. The Seashell Contract is a collection of 22 stories, all previously unpublished and written in the past two years. All proceeds from this book will go to The Mariposa Trust, a charity that supports families who have lost babies. The book is available from Amazon in both print and ebook editions. It is also available directly from Createspace, the printers, and if you take this option, a larger percentage of the cost price of the book will go to the charity.

Let's take a provisional look at the figures. If you buy the paperback edition, which is priced at $9.99, the royalties that come to me are as follows: $3.33 in the US; £2.93 in the UK; €2.68 in the EU. If you buy the ebook edition, which is priced at $3, the royalties due to me are $2.10. All royalties will be passed to the charity the day I receive them. This means that if you buy the paperback, the charity will get more money in total; but if you buy the ebook, a higher percentage of your money will go to the charity. One third of the paperback price goes to the charity, but two-thirds of the ebook price.

Buying this book, you are supporting the charity. However, you may prefer to make a direct donation to them. It could be that you simply don't really care for my work. It could be that you don't like the idea of either 66% or 33% of your money going to a printer and distributor rather than the charity. It could be that you don't approve of charity projects that are 'exhibitionist' and it can't be denied that releasing a book that promotes the writer as well as supports a charity is certainly an act of grandstanding.

What can be done about this? Nothing much. Writers will always write books and promote them, and they will take the money for themselves and keep it. In this case, I am not keeping any money at all, but certainly it is in my interest too that the book sells. It is not pure altruism. It is an act of striving that happens to be allied to altruism. Striving and altruism must work together.

I hope that this project will be mutually beneficially to both the charity and myself. At the same time, let's be clear. I am not an especially successful writer in commercial terms. The amount of money that this book will earn for the charity isn't going to be a large sum (unless something happens and I become more popular). I will, however, keep the paperwork accurate, donate the money to charity each time my royalties are paid, and I will make sure all the documentation of transactions is available for official scrutiny. I will have to write off against tax the profits from this book, however small those profits are. So it's in my interest to be very careful with the entire process.

The photo displayed on this blog entry is one taken by an excellent fellow and chronicler of SF and fantasy fiction, Michael Hutchins. It has given me an idea. Anyone who buys the book and posts a photo of it on social media or websites, or sends it privately to me, will be automatically entered into a competition to win a free copy of either my last book (Sangria in the Sangraal) or my next one (Cloud Farming in Wales), whichever is preferred...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Story Collection for Charity

2017 has got off to a great start in terms of writing. I have been very productive already and I have lots of news to announce; but I am going to take things one step at a time, and talk about projects one by one. This seems the clearest and best way to proceed...

Therefore I am first going to deal with a book of my stories that will soon be published that has been created in aid of charity. The charity in question is The Mariposa Trust and it supports mothers and families who have lost babies. I chose this charity because my friend Katy Kear has done work for them; I wanted to help her efforts and this was one way I could. All proceeds from the sale of my book will go to the charity.

The book is called THE SEASHELL CONTRACT and will contain 22 stories. These stories are previously unpublished and all have been written in the past two years. I decided not to include any reprints in the collection, so anyone who reads the book won't encounter material they may have already read in magazines or anthologies. I am hoping this will encourage my readers to buy it. The stories are varied in theme, tone and scope. They are mostly speculative fiction pieces, some comedic, others less so, mainly fantastical and quirky.

The book will be available both as a paperback and in ebook form. It is being published under my own small Gloomy Seahorse imprint. This way I have more control and can ensure that all profits go directly to the charity. It also enables me to typeset it carefully and design the interior. More details will follow; and with luck the book should be out in the next few weeks.

In the meantime I leave you with an image from the photo shoot that took place in order to create a cover for the book. My endless gratitude to Vanessa Ndovela who kindly agreed to appear in the photos; and also to Lidia Ciotola who snapped the images.

Saturday, December 31, 2016


New Year's Eve

The year 2016 is coming to an end. It wasn't a bad year for me by any means, not as good as 2015 was (one of the best years of my life) but certainly nothing to complain about. On a geopolitical scale the year will probably go down in history as being pivotal, a time when vast changes were set in motion. It is really not easy to predict the future. My efforts in that direction fail nearly every time, and so do those of most others. I regard Brexit as a disaster but its full ramifications can't be known for a long time yet. Let's wait and see.

This year I had a new collection of short fiction published, a book beautifully produced by the wonderful Egaeus Press called Brutal Pantomimes that I am especially pleased with. It contains a story 'The Jam of Hypnos' and a novella 'The Impossible Inferno' that are among the two best things I have ever written (in my own view at least!). The book sold well.

My 1996 novella Elusive Plato was also republished, by Bizarro Pulp Press, but this did much less well. In fact it sold very few copies, even though reader demand had prompted the reprint in the first place. The publishing world is a baffling place at times!

Finally my sequence of linked historical fantasies Sangria in the Sangraal was published in an expanded and updated edition by Eibonvale Press and this was launched just a few weeks ago. The story behind this book is almost as convoluted as the story inside it. The initial idea for the collection came with the visit I made, purely by chance, to the little town of Albarracín back in September 2007. It has taken more than nine years to get from that visit to the final version of the story cycle.

As for writing new material... I completed two short novels in 2016 (or perhaps they can more accurately be termed novellas). The Honeymoon Gorillas is a 'weird Western' that I plan to submit to a publisher sometime in 2017 (I have a specific one in mind). Cloud Farming in Wales is a very unorthodox fantasia that was partly inspired by Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America and it has already found a publisher and has a provisional publication date of June 2017.

Every year I set myself the target of writing 100,000 words of new fiction as a minimum threshold. Last year I failed to meet my target. This year I easily exceeded it. Next year I plan to be less strict with myself about this figure. This doesn't mean I am going to slacken on my projects, simply that I won't be stressing about targets for wordage.

Projects for 2017 include a collection of short fiction called The Seashell Contract with all proceeds going to charity, and a book of ghost stories called The Ghost Comedians. I will also be attempting to write a novella for TOR. It's also high time I finally finished the novel I have been working on since 1994, The Clown of the New Eternities. But I say that every year... Let's see!

HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


End of Year Review 2016

This end of year review is concerned solely with books. For some reason 2016 turned out to be the year in which I read more fiction books than in any other year of my entire life. I also read a lot of non-fiction books, but I won't deal with those here. I have read a total of 63 fiction books so far and I will probably increase this total by two or three more titles before the year is finished. However, I feel ready to make a choice about my favourites.

My opinions on fiction have remained fairly stable over the course of my reading life. I have become much more open to non-European literature, however. I really don't understand why this didn't happen sooner. I have loved Latin American literature for a long time, of course, but it's only in the past decade that I have really begin to explore the literature of Africa and Asia in any depth. Anyway, here are my top fiction books of 2016...

* Dream Story -- Arthur Schnitzler
An almost perfect short novel. Having seen the Kubrick film that was based on this book (and thinking it good but hugely flawed) I foolishly assumed the book would also be flawed. But it isn't. It is a remarkable work in which the lines between dream and reality are blurred in a very affecting way, both occupying spaces of high clarity and reflecting the other, so it is never entirely certain what is real and what isn't. However this doesn't (as it might have done) lessen the impact of the powerful, sensual and grotesque events that occur. Schnitzler refuses to take the easy way or to allow his main protagonist, Fridolin, to use the "dream" excuse to escape the seriousness of what has resulted from his actions of one night. The prose of the story is powerful and sombre, yet charged with a rich atmosphere.

* If on a Winter's Night a Traveller -- Italo Calvino
Calvino has at least two other books among my all-time favourites, The Complete Cosmicomics and Our Ancestors. And Marcovaldo may even be a third. He is certainly my favourite fiction writer. There are almost too many things I want to say about If on a Winter's Night a Traveller. The odd aspect is that I have met a few people who dislike it intensely, and the main reason they dislike it is always based on a misunderstanding. They believe it is merely a showcase for Calvino to display how clever he is; that it's a book dedicated solely to the act of showing-off. But in fact this is absolutely not the case. In fact the process of the book involves Calvino's ego dissolving away and the authorial voice being taken over by a host of other (imaginary but brilliantly realised) authors. It may seem like an egocentric book on the surface but underneath it is profoundly involved with the real world, with the outer as well as the inner. It is about life, experience, ideas, style, culture, differences, similarities, and the connections between them. And it tries to capture a very elusive mood, a series of very elusive moods in fact, that concern the art of literature and the act of reading: the fact that when we start reading a novel the potentialities are almost endless and the novel has immense (if not infinite) possibilities in terms of development and evolution. But as we read onward, those potentialities diminish, the possibilities became less, as the novel actually congeals into what it is, namely a book that is being read. Calvino's masterwork, on the other hand, is a cycle of connected beginnings in which the potentials are never lost, and these beginnings together form a coherent work of progress through time, with a conclusion that satisfies the demands of literary convention and yet is highly original. And the whole of this amazing construction is held together within a metafictional frame that tells its own delightful and remarkable quest story.

* A River Called Time -- Mia Couto
Mia Couto writes in a unique style that is very powerful. In fact I find his prose style one of the finest of any writer I have read. It has affinities to magic realism but contrives to be original too. I also see in it some similarities with the mannerisms of Milorad Pavić, in the sense that the metaphorical aspects of the worlds they both create are so spectacularly unusual and yet feel precisely right, as if they are pinning down some aspects of existence that had remained elusive before, and doing so with language that only seems willfully odd until we have acclimatized to it. It is difficult to explain precisely what I mean. Inexplicable events take place in Couto's work: they are embodiment in the external world of internal feelings, even when those feelings are not really understood by the characters experiencing them. And yet it is not feelings alone that drive forward the plot or justify the magic. Couto's novels, mystical and mysterious, are also adventure stories in which Africa is a wounded soul attempting to heal itself, as well as the extraordinary stage for the protagonists to move on, dancing between dangers and ecstasies.

* Heart's Wings and Other Stories -- Gabriel Josipovici
Josipovici is one of my favourite short-story writers and this volume is a selection of his work over the majority of his career. His style is crisp, lucid and luminous, always slightly strange, cool, aloof, and yet capable of cutting deeply into the emotions of the reader. He reminds me of some of the avant garde 'New Worlds' writers of the late 60s and early 70s who attempted experimental prose that connected with the head and the heart simultaneously. But they mostly failed, and Josipovici mostly succeeds. 'Second Person Looking Out' is a maze tale in which the labyrinth is a relentless shift-of-perspective in the grounds and interior of a weird house. 'Mobius the Stripper' is a dark comedy and a magnificent exercise in topography. 'The Bird Cage' is an elegiac prose poem. 'Christmas' is a brilliant kitchen-sink twister. 'Exile' is a story of poignant irony about self-imprisonment. 'Steps' (perhaps my favourite) demonstrates the artistry with which the author can switch between past, present and future, turning a bizarre encounter with a stranger into something that is poised between daydream/nightmare and reality. 'Love Across the Borders' is a powerful and chilling revenge tale... There is a strong flavour of Borges as well as Kafka in many of these stories, and in the others, and all are highly accomplished. This is a wonderful book.

* The Star Diaries -- Stanislaw Lem
Stanislaw Lem is a writer I especially admire. This book is one of his best. In fact it is one of the best science-fiction books I have ever read. A collection of the improbable voyages of the space explorer Ijon Tichy, it is delightful, funny, thought provoking, original, clever, charming and absurd (in a good way). This is the kind of science-fiction I most enjoy -- similar to Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics -- picaresque, playful, highly imaginative and not limited by those pointless concerns for veracity that 'hard' SF always insists on. In many ways The Star Diaries is more akin to Gulliver's Travels than to traditional science-fiction; but it is the endlessly inventive ideas that really make Lem stand out. He was a genius.

* The Nightwatchman's Occurrence Book -- V.S. Naipaul
It is only this year (2016) that I have really started to read his books in earnest, but V.S. Naipaul has already become one of my favourite writers. I read Miguel Street, his first book, in the spring, and followed it with his second, The Mystic Masseur; then I knew I would have to seek out his third, and so on... So I bought the third, The Suffrage of Elvira, but it seemed sensible to buy it as part of this omnibus and thus secure two extra books in one volume... I am glad that I did. The Suffrage of Elvira is one of Naipaul's 'early' books. Set in Trinidad it is full of comical characters who move in a setting in which many different races mix and interact. It seems almost one of a piece with his two earlier books. There is considerable charm here, but it is far from being merely 'charming' or 'colourful'. There is also darkness, sadness and frustration amid the tropical props and island scenery. This style of writing was one Naipaul was to abandon shortly afterwards, moving on to a much more precise and profound voice and manner of approaching his material. The second part of this omnibus features Mr Stone and the Knights Companion, an oddity that Naipaul wrote while he was travelling through India, although it is set entirely in England and was Naipaul's attempt to write a wholly 'English' novel. It works very well. It is a social satire along the lines of some of H.G. Wells' novels (The History of Mr Polly for instance) and the writing is sublime, subdued, muted but deeply thoughtful too, quite different from the prose style of the early Trinidad novels, but equally impressive and affecting in an entirely different way. The third part of the omnibus contains a story collection, A Flag on the Island. To my delight, this collection featured stories that are in the style of Miguel Street (in fact, one of them, 'The Enemy' was originally intended for that book but left out), and also stories in which the more mature and richer manner prevails. It is the title story of this collection, the brilliant novella 'A Flag on the Island' that actually proved to be an important transition piece for Naipaul, leading him to experiment with, and develop, a new voice that became entirely his.

* Trout Fishing in America -- Richard Brautigan (Picador)
A work of genius! It falters slightly midway, in my view, but the remainder of the book more than makes up for what I perceived as a few weaker passages here and there. I say 'passages' rather than chapters because the individual chapters don't feel like real chapters. They are often connected to the other chapters but not always. They are fragments that feel they might be part of a stream that flows in unexpected directions, but maybe there isn't just one stream here, maybe there are many trickles of water seeking a stream to flow into. Some will succeed and some will miss. This is the 7th Brautigan book I have read and I can understand why it is his most famous and why it sold far more copies than any of his others. It became a key counterculture text in the late 1960s although it was written in the early 1960s and only circulated in manuscript form for most of that decade before ending up as a published book. The 'typewritten 'manuscript' format is preserved in the printed editions and it makes the reader feel that they too are privileged enough to share the secret, although in fact the secret has been so widely disseminated since that it is no longer a secret. The manuscript format changes the tone of the work slightly, maybe adding to its sense of wistfulness and even melancholy. For there is melancholy here, despite the brilliant absurdist comedy of the outrageous metaphors and fantastical situations that are embedded in the more down-to-earth situation of a man seeking a place to go trout fishing, with or without his girlfriend and daughter, in a variety of locations. Brautigan's metaphors are more than just metaphors. They are frequently pataphors, where the content of the comparison becomes more important than the original object in the process of being compared and influences the subsequent action. It strikes me that Brautigan's first two novels, Trout Fishing in America and A Confederate General from Big Sur are fundamentally different from all his later books. They are more chaotically constructed, more rambling, stranger in their use of language, but also richer. They may not be as beautifully neat as (for example) The Hawkline Monster or Sombrero Fallout but they will perhaps eventually prove to be more enduring. This is an important work of literature. Indeed I would say it is essential reading...

* The Fall -- Albert Camus (Penguin)
In my 20s I read Camus and thought he was an extraordinary writer, fully the equal of his mighty reputation. So why didn't I read him again during the entirety of my 30s and 40s until now? It is a mystery that I can't explain. I picked up The Fall on a whim and devoured it. An astounding short novel that has the fundamental question of how to live in this world as its theme. Camus is a philosophical writer with a precise use of language. His prose has unstoppable momentum and a reader can't help but hurry from the first page to the last in a delirium of receptive inspiration.

* A Malgudi Omnibus -- R.K. Narayan (Vintage)
R.K. Narayan is an author I have been aware of for a long time, but I only started reading his books this year. I read a short sample volume of his short stories back in February. This omnibus volume contains three of his earliest novels. Swami and Friends, the very first, I found to be charming, engrossing and fascinating. Narayan gives me a warm feeling that few other writers do. His style is perfect for my needs at this time; and in fact I now feel the same way I did when I was young and launching myself into the great universe of literature for the first time. He is able to do two contradictory things simultaneously, namely (1) show that we are all the same throughout the world, and (2) show how cultures and people around the world differ from each other. The 'warm' feeling that he conveys doesn't mean that his books make life seem easy. On the contrary, his work is absolutely committed to dealing with the travails of existence; but there is a deep humanity about his style that strongly appeals to my better nature. I love immersing myself in his world and I feel that no more genuine and sincere guide could ever be found to our common reality than this author. The Bachelor of Arts, the second novel in this omnibus, tells of Chandran, who graduates from college and falls in love with Malathi, a girl he sees on the sands of the river bank one evening. His yearnings for her lead to the most dramatic adventure of his youth, as he impulsively but bravely decides to reject the world when he is unable to have her as his wife. But that is only one extended incident among many. This novel is delightful and charming but also has elements of melancholy. It is humorous and yet serious. I fully understand why Graham Greene said that Narayan was his favourite writer in the English language. Greene said that Narayan had metaphorically offered him a second home in India; and that's exactly the way I feel too. The third novel in the omnibus, The English Teacher, is much more sombre than the other two. The plot concerns an English teacher who loses his wife to typhoid. Narayan lost his own wife to the same disease. The sadness and poignancy of certain scenes in this novel are intense; and yet the author never allows his narrator to become self-indulgent. The ending of this novel is truly beautiful and moving. I always feel with Narayan that he is befriending the reader as well as telling a story.

Sunday, December 04, 2016


Sangria Exists....

My new book has existed for the past two months but only now that I have copies do I feel I can regard it as published. Sangria in the Sangraal was originally published in Romania by Ex Occidente in a deluxe limited edition back in 2011. For this new edition I have added two extra stories to make a linked sequence of twelve tales chronicling a fantasical version of the history of the tiny and remote city of Albarracín over many thousand years of history.

I am delighted with the way the book has turned out and the treatment given to it by the publisher of this updated and expanded second edition. David Rix of Eibonvale Press is an exceptional book designer. His covers are unique, striking and aesthetically pleasing. One of the best covers he has ever designed (in my view) is for Allen Ashley's The Planet Suite. Almost as great is his cover for Andrew Hook's Human Maps.

Both of these writers attended the event in London last Friday night where Sangria was launched. Allen I have met several times before; this was the first time I had met Andrew, but I am trying to turn him into a Brautigan fan and it seems to be working. It was also great to meet my friend Valeria Vitale at the event, a person who seems to share at least some of my literary tastes (it is surprisingly difficult to find such people).

I am really awkward at these informal literary events where there are no readings, no panels and no question and answer sessions, just people milling around and chatting. I always find it difficult when people ask me, "Are you a writer?" The substantial part of my character that is modest and polite wants to answer, "In the shade of giants like Tolstoy, Proust, Kafka, Cervantes, I haven't earned the right to call myself a writer, so by any realistic yardstick I am not." And at the same time, the part of my character that is imperious and hubristic wants to answer, "Aren't you aware of my genius?!" The conflict between these two equal but opposite forces usually has me shrugging my shoulders and mumbling shyly, "Oh, sort of!"

Sangria in the Sangraal is available from various places, including directly from the publisher, but people seem to prefer ordering from Amazon. Therefore I can link to it at Amazon UK here and also Amazon US here. The book is available as a hardback and also as a paperback, and there will be a Kindle edition in the new year (if not sooner).

Saturday, November 26, 2016


Sangria Book Launch

I have finished writing Cloud Farming in Wales and it already has found a publisher. I signed the contract and I am awaiting the proofs to check for publication. I love it when things move rapidly and efficiently in the writing world. Usually they don't!

The overdue book launch for my sequence of linked fantasy stories set in old Spain, Sangria in the Sangraal, is now scheduled to take place next Friday. The details for the launch are: December 2nd at the Counting House pub, 50 Cornhill, EC3V 3PD, London, United Kingdom (see map to pinpoint location).

Anyone who happens to be in London at the time should consider coming along. The launch is actually a multiple launch, as two other authors, Allen Ashley and Andrew Hook, will also be launching their own books at the same time, The Planet Suite and Human Maps.

Eibonvale Books and Exaggerated Press will be present; and the event will be a sort of 'social evening' for anyone who likes fantasy fiction. In fact, it is one of a series of open nights held by the British Fantasy Society. You don't have to be a member to come along. I am not a member, for example. I am looking forward to finally having the hardback edition of my updated and expanded book in my hands!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Cloud Farming

I finished writing my 'weird Western' The Honeymoon Gorillas and I am delighted with it. I have a publisher who has expressed some interest in seeing it, but I have to wait until next year before submitting it. That's the publishing world for you. Things tend to move slowly, at least more slowly than authors would like, certainly slower than this author would like...

The projects I am currently working on include a new book for Bizarro Pulp Press that is a collection of novelettes and stories about ghost comedians. It is going to be called, appropriately enough, The Ghost Comedians. With luck it will be finished this year and I will submit it then. One of the novelettes is a story I first started writing when I was 15 years old. That uncompleted version was lost ages ago, but I always fondly remembered aspects of it, and I am re-using them in this new version, hopefully in a much improved form.

Another project is something I have only started writing very recently. It has taken more years than it should but I think I might have found an approach to writing that is more suited to what I do well and avoids me having to attempt what I don't do well. It's not really a style but a different way of handling my material; namely a method of linking fairly abstract routines into a whole without having to worry so much about narrative drive, characterization, plot and other conventionalities. I have started a new work utilizing this approach which is called Cloud Farming in Wales. Let's see how it progresses...

This technique is one that I am borrowing from Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America, which I read recently for the first time. I only started reading Brautigan this year, although he was recommended to me years ago. Of his twelve prose works I have already read seven and plan to read the others as soon as possible. His later books such as The Hawkline Monster and Sombrero Fallout show a neater structure than his earlier; and yet it is his first two 'novels' that seem to contain the greatest potential and originality; they are fluid, disjointed, often abstract, yet deeply rich.

I no longer collect books. I read them and then give them away. I have a pristine copy of his first published novel (the second to be written) A Confederate General from Big Sur. Anyone who lives in the UK and wants it for free, just email me at and I will mail it to you. First come, first served.

Sunday, October 16, 2016


Half a Century

I have neglected this blog and yet it still isn't quite dead...

Many things have happened to me this year but I simply felt less of a need to talk about them in public. I ought to say, however, that I am now 50 years old. My half-century birthday arrived! This means that twenty of me would constitute a millennium. Forty of me would be two millennia. A normal bus easily holds forty people; such a bus full of copies of me would be full of enough years to stretch back to the glory days of the Roman Empire.

I continue to find this surprising, I don't know why. But age, of course, is not really about how many times planet Earth has orbited the sun. That is only an astronomical measurement; and organic creatures age biologically. I am an organic creature. My age depends on health rather than time. Keeping myself fit is a priority.

I have updated The Platinum Donkey blog, where a selection of my stories can be read online for free. There are now 44 stories on that blog; and one day I intend for there to be exactly one hundred.

Anyway, I guess I will try to make more of an effort to update this blog. My latest book was published recently and I should have copies soon, fingers crossed. I will talk about that when I have the copies in my hands, in these half-century-old hands of mine...

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