As Far As You Can Go

September 22, 2012

Like My Previous Collection, But With 100% Added Story

Are you tired of picking up short story collections and finding only nine or ten tales inside? Do you often wonder why someone hasn’t published a collection of 18 stories?

Well they have. As Far As You Can Go is a new collection by Martin Philp. It  features all the award-winning stories* of his puny collection One Big Echo of a Much Nicer Place, with eight brand-new stories, bulking the total up to a spray-tanned, muscular 18 (yes, 18) stories.

And at just over two quid for the entire collection, it works out at a great-value, recession-proof 11.1p per story.**

What’s it about?

As Far As You Can Go is 18 largely interconnected stories set in West Cornwall. They’re a mixed bag of comic tales with a mildly maudlin streak I can only apologise for. You’ll meet Dandy, a flamboyant, lonely, desperate-to-be-loved, Hayle man who suffers a cruel fate during carnival day. (You can read Dandy Allcock here.) John, who has a dangerous obsession with purchasing cut-price power tools from German supermarkets. And foul-mouthed Jack Tremenyans, who each year decorates the town with Christmas lights and a torrent of expletives. (Bizarrely, Jack’s story Merry Fucking Christmas recently featured in a Christmas service at Truro Cathedral.)

But is it any good?

To be honest, I’m not the best person to ask: I’ve messed about with these stories so much it makes my eyes water just looking at them. But the first collection did win the Holyer An Gof Award Fiction Category in 2010 (it’s a Cornish thing celebrating Cornish arts). And I have had some nice reviews from people.

You’ve convinced me. You’ve worn me down. You can have my flippin’ two quid.

You can buy a Kindle edition of the book on Amazon

And bear in mind, if you don’t have a Kindle reader, you can download one for free and read if from there. If anyone would prefer an iPad version or any other format, let me know and I’ll get on to it. It should only take me two and a half years or so.

Hope you like the book. If you don’t, well, as John Shuttleworth would say, I’m sorry.


*Apart from one, which wasn’t very good.

**Calculation not accurate


Buy Local – Pick Up An Award-Winning Collection of Cornish Stories For Just £2.10

April 6, 2012

As Far As You Can Go is my new collection of e-book stories set in Cornwall.

About as far away as you can get from pirates, piskies or picture-postcard Cornwall, this collection of largely comic tales is packed with plain-speaking and occasionally foul-mouthed Cornish characters.

The collection includes most of the stories from my previous print collection One Big Echo of a Much Nicer Place, which won the Holyer An Gof Award for Fiction (2010), plus eight new stories.


Martin Philp is a highly original writer of great talent. His odd blend of humour and tragedy must be quite unique.

 [It is…] likely to be the start of a much wider and deserved recognition for a writer of such exhilarating talent.

Philp conjures a world inhabited by convincing characters. Sad, foul-mouthed and always authentic, his stories invariably possess a great sting in the tail.

Very funny. Read it at your peril and be prepared to laugh a lot.

Support local produce – buy my collection of 18 short stories for a minimum wage- and seasonal income-friendly £2.05.

Haven’t got a Kindle? You can get a Kindle reader for your computer or smartphone.

Like to sample the produce before purchase? Then read a story.

That’s the hard sell over. Thanks for listening!


Martin Philp

ps If you could like my Facebook page, it would be a great help in getting the word around.

Ten new stories

December 8, 2010

Coming soon

(but not that soon and possibily under different titles and no, I know, it isn’t ten stories yet)

The Fabulous Life of Bolitho Townshend

Nature Video

The Return of Dandy Allcock

Titles, titles, titles… I just can't think…


Mad Dogs and an Englishman

Bingo! (Or the Vorstellung Adjustable Slim-Nosed Plane)

John Lennon Hat

Another Glass of Sherry, Please

Milk Factory

In defense of short stories

October 31, 2010

I used to steer clear of short stories, for the same reasons I steered clear of poetry. I was told every word must count, because it is a short form. So as writers we would (presumably) weigh words out like a miser and polish them before putting them on the page;

My favourite short story? Glad you asked. Cat in the Rain by Ernest Hemingway.

and, as readers, examine the words and turn them to the light, like precious stones. It all seemed a bit precious and earnest.

After writing and totally ballsing up two novels, I decided to write some short fiction. But, interestingly, I found that certain chapters of one of my ballsed up novels stood alone as perfectly good (in the relative sense of my own creations) short stories. And it made me wonder if there is anything so different about this form after all.

After extensive research, writing and reading short stories, I have come to this conclusion (cue drum roll): Short stories are shorter than novels. That’s really all there is to say on the subject. They can appear to be a fragment of a life, something plucked from the stream; a sketch; or a moment of crisis. Anything, actually. Just pretty short. Inevitably, they’ll have one storyline and will lack the subplots of novels, because there simply isn’t room. But to look at rules in short stories is restrictive in my opinion, though you might look at tendencies.

One other thing. I think the reason people have trouble with short stories is because when you enter any new fictional world, the first few pages can often be disorientating or unsettling, while you find your feet with the narrative voice and the world in question. With a novel, no problem: you’re talking about perhaps five per cent of your reading time as hard work. With short stories, you’re required to be bewildered and work a little harder every time you begin a new story. Unless, of course, you’re reading a collection with a similar narrative voice throughout, in a single locale. That makes things a little easier.

Anyway, if anyone’s interested, here’s a few masterpieces of the form, from the top of my head.

John Cheever

Cheever is my current favourite writer. His stories have an easy grace about them that can appear deceptive at first; and yet as you read on you realise his subjects are always, and only, the important things. Love, disillusion, nostalgia (yes, and drinking till you wet your pants). The Swimmer is about a man who decides to return home from a party via his neighbours’ swimming pools, swimming a length of one, getting out, walking to the next, swimming etc etc. And yet in truth it is about something far more disturbing. The Tallboy is a stunning story with an unpromising subject: a piece of furniture. And yet it evokes beautifully the dangers of wallowing in the past, of attempting to bring the deceased back to life through treasured objects. These are beautiful stories with the ring of truth, told in the reassuring voice of an artist who is easy and comfortable in his craft.


I’m not sure if these stories came before or after his turn in Star Trek, but Chekhov is the name that comes up time and time again as the consummate miniaturist and author of a life (and accompanying crisis) in a few pages. I find some of his stories a little slow – for a great Russian read (or Ukranian to be precise) Gogol’s Dead Souls is funny as hell. But back to Chekhov, you have, of course, to read The Lady and the Dog, which is a beautiful, sad story of a sordid love affair which seems to be not only about this particular affair, but all the sad, sordid relationships of the world. (And this wider, metaphysical quality runs through many Chekhov stories.)

Flannery O’Connor

A Good Man is Hard to Find is a hypnotic story which brings a shocking change in tone to a tale that begins with the mundanities of a family outing. A bit like Hitchcock’s Psycho. Another great story is The Artificial Nigger, which is about two country men coming to town, and is full of Biblical resonance. Her stories are set in the American South and accentuate the grotesque; there is something cartoonish about them, and yet also authentic and true.

Denis Johnson

There are far too many writers doing that drink-drugs-hopeless-sordid-barfly thing, yet Denis Johnson is a master, evoking a desperate world of rusted Americana and hopeless lives in a chilling, yet extremely readable way. You never feel he is trying to bullshit or impress you, but rather explain calmly and quietly a world on the margins that is, at times horrifying; at others, beautiful.

Raymond Carver

The writer who spawned a million inferior imitators, with his pinched, minimalist prose about the often mundane lives of Americans. It sounds unpromising, but Carver is the writer who is deeply poetic without appearing to write poetically. They are wonderful, beguiling stories because you will rarely find the beauty in a single line, but only in the wider context. In that way, the art of Raymond Carver is something almost invisible, hiding behind the words, but there all the same. One other thing: the simplicity of the prose makes these stories so effortlessly readable. (That’s always something worth mentioning after waxing lyrical about the style.)

Official – Indians love Cornwall

August 21, 2010

Take a look at this picture.

Notice anything odd about the little boy on the right?

I didn’t.

I was driving from Pondicherry to Bangalore with my girlfriend, Gargi.

We were deep in the Indian countryside: bullock carts, vibrant green paddy fields, the fragrant smell of rice in the air, old men wobbling on even older bikes.

We stopped the car and got out. We wanted to take it all in.

Then these two kids came up to us.

I took their picture, then we all did a bit of grinning (they didn’t speak English, we speak no Tamil).

Gargi and I got back in the car and carried on to Bangalore.

Cornwall For Ever. But only if regional pride is inclusive and doesn't take on any bigoted overtones, innit, my handsome?

Several days passed before we looked at the photos and noticed what was written on the T-shirt.

(For anyone not familiar with Cornish culture, Kernow Bys Vyken means Cornwall For Ever in the Kernewek language.)

One Big Echo – an award winner

July 28, 2010

One Big Echo of a Much Nicer Place recently won first place for fiction and short stories, at the 2010 Holyer an Gof awards ceremony held in Waterstone’s, Truro.

Sometimes dubbed ‘The Cornish Bookers’, the event is an annual competition to celebrate local publishing.

You can find out more about the award from this report from the This is Cornwall website.

Latest review

June 12, 2010




Humphry Davy stood at the top of Market Jew Street, his hand on his hip, and a look of haughty condescension that said: “It’s about time you dreadful people pulled yourselves together and made something of your lives.”

I owe this vivid and accurate picture of my home town of Penzance on a winter afternoon to a man from the other side of the world – Hayle.

And if Penzance is so dreadful, my townsmen might say, what about that post-industrial wilderness through which we trailed unwillingly for so many years until it was, thankfully, bypassed and, therefore, forgotten?

But the words are by author Martin Philp, a name synonymous with Hayle for decades.


One Big Echo of a Much Nicer Place is a collection of short stories which has already been reviewed in these pages, and I’ve just finished reading it. I can’t remember which author said that “it’s not enough to be successful – others must fail” but generosity is rare between most creative artists and that’s how we like it.

However, this little blue book, published by Scryfa, is one that any Cornish writer must stand up and salute. He has got Cornwall right, as only an insider can.

And even more of a revelation is that he has celebrated Hayle itself, which is as much a character as any of the complex, sad, funny, utterly humane people whose lives he delicately brings to life. It’s a love/hate relationship.

“Hayle’s a dump and always will be,” says one resident, while another revels in its “faded glory … like an overlong youth, frayed and worn in places (most places)…” awaiting the line of would-be developers who have threatened to make it grow up like other towns.

The author’s ear for dialogue in real Cornish – as opposed to “proper Cornish” – style is marvellous and his satires are as gentle as they are true.

We share the frustration of a conventional local artist bewailing modern art’s money and praise while he looks around his studio at Bosigran And The Heavens, Carn Galver In Autumn, Morvah At Dusk, Last Rays At Zennor Head and other doomed works.

Meanwhile, the art critics do what art critics do: “bludgeon a work with words and concepts until they are quite sure it has stopped breathing.”

No contemporary portrait of Cornwall could work unless it dug beneath the gloss and the pseudo-romance, down to the well of Cornish identity – the mixed sadness of defeat coupled with deep pride of ownership, the sense of abiding values, the willingness to let the world go on its mad way without wanting to jump aboard, and — making it all bearable — the humour, love and humanity which keep our societies together under the harshest circumstances.

It’s truly beautiful stuff, and you should go out and buy a copy.

One Big Echo Of A Much Nicer Place by Martin Philp is published by Scryfa and is available for £7.50 (inc, p&p) from Scryfa, Halwinnick Cottage, Linkinhorne, Callington, Cornwall PL17 7NS.