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.

Cheers.

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

**Calculation not accurate

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Local Heroes – or Why I Hate Humphry Davy

March 24, 2010

Setting is hugely important in One Big Echo of a Much Nicer Place. I mean, how could I begin to suggest the rambling, decaying mind of an old bachelor without  Hayle’s crumbling North Quay as a backdrop? Here’s a few of the places you’ll see in my stories. I think of them more as characters than locations – sometimes the lead, other times making a cameo appearance.

Foundry Square, Hayle.
If my stories were movies (not much chance of that) Foundry Square in Hayle would be the opening shot: the hustle and bustle of people and cars, the train rumbling over the viaduct, someone effing and blinding because they’ve been boxed in outside Spar again.
My locations are personalised, fictional sketches. Spar is a beacon of hope (really), the viaduct always looms ominously, old men grumble in deep voices outside the bakery, the fruit and veg shop is run by a couple who are sad but revelling in their sadness. The sound of rain pattering on the canvas roof on wet Tuesday afternoons is music to their ears.

Market Jew Street, Penzance
Have you ever wondered about Humphry Davy statue’s odd pose? All hands on hip and starey eyes like he’s frozen in a moment of consternation. Never has a statue cast such a supercilious, haughty gaze on his townsfolk. He judges the citizens against his own achievements and finds them wanting. One of my stories is set in Penzance in the Eighties. From what I remember of the time – the lines of boarded up businesses,  endless charity shops, the terrible hairstyles of my generation – Humphry Davy was striking just the right pose for the occasion. But I still don’t like him. I’m going to write a story where he hits the skids and spends his last guineas on cheap cider and drinks it sprawled under his own plinth. That’ll show him.

Hayle dunes
Whenever a character needs to tell someone something important – declare his love, reveal that life is a big crock of ordure – I pack him or her off to the dunes in Hayle. This is Hayle’s strange, whispering, marin-swaying border between prosaic reality and a world of dreamy sunsets and infinite possibility. It bring about that crack in the psyche, that pause or gap in a person’s life where they break from the illusion, see and reveal things.
The dunes also say something else about Hayle. They evoke the breadth and range of the place. See the strange, breeze-block structures squatting in the dunes, then look out beyond to an infinity of blue. It’s all there. All of it. (Just watch out for the bags of dog pooh. Oh, please don’t get me started on that subject…)

The Weir, Hayle
My collection is called One Big Echo of a Much Nicer Place because it is a phrase a character uses about the world in general. But later I realised it also said something about Hayle: at least when you’re in a certain mood. There is the echo of zeal and activity about Hayle, the ghosts of working-class industrial workers kicking about the rubble. Usually, they’re down at the Weir. Can a place be beautiful and ugly at the same time? Yes. Go to the Weir. The rubble, the cry of a curlew, the swirl of tide and pool, dithering like it can’t find a way out from a nostalgic daydream, this is the Weir. It is broken and it is beautiful. (And I’ve just fortuitously come up with the title for my next collection (self publication due 2037.)

Chapel Street, Penzance
Chapel Street, the upper-middle class neighbour of proletariat Market Jew Street. The bistros, the antiques, the expensive furnishing, the immaculate pubs – Chapel Street smiles at its own reflection in wine bar mirrors and antique silver tea trays. Whenever a character is beginning to feel alienated or dispossessed I quickly push him down Chapel Street. He inevitably starts to feel worse and that is always good for a story. (You’ve got to be heartless, ruthless even, in such matters.)

Hayle pubs
I use real names for places and that includes pubs but, in truth, all of these are composites and impressions and not the real places in question at all. The important thing about pubs is that they are places where things happen to people. They are the venue for reconciliation or humiliation, the grand operatic moments of a life amid the crackle of a crisp packets, the click of pool balls, the flash and bleep of the fruiter, the ostentatious belch of Fatty Thomas, the soporific drone of Terry Nine Pints at the bar as he sets the world to rights by recommending burnings and floggings for people not of Cornish origin. I love pubs. But only fictional ones, where I am the hand that brings justice and retribution. It’s one of the perks of writing.


One Big Echo – in Uys Gallery, St Ives

February 11, 2010

‘I’ll have a big ceramic pot, please, and a copy of One Big Echo of a Much Nicer Place.’

Those are the exact words you can hear now* in one of the artiest and craftiest corners of the county, because One Big Echo of a Much Nicer Place is now available in Uys Gallery, St Ives*

Roloef Uys makes beautiful stoneware pots and displays them in this gallery, run by his partner Melanie. I’ve been looking at them myself and they really are things of great beauty.

Visit www.uysgallery.co.uk to find out more about Roloef’s pots, or visit the shop at 8 Tregenna Hill, up near the bus station.

*Only likely to be heard if someone is simultaneously buying a book and a pot


Meet the Characters (Part 2)

January 28, 2010

Florence Bray
Apparently growing older is best done gracefully, but no one told that to Florence Bray. With her barely tolerated husband recently in his grave, she rages against the wasted years, casts off acquaintances and finds solace, and adventure, at last in the company of the demonic Mr Drew, a man with an appetite for love, drink and offending the elderly.

Henry Caldwell
Meet an ice cream salesman with a mind as cold and icy as his frosty confections. Henry is the scourge of hot, sweaty optimistic youth, and seems bent on bringing the knowledge of life’s disappointments to the young as quickly as is inhumanely possible. What will save the youth of Hayle from Henry? Love, of course, in the shapely shape of fellow ice cream vendor Sarah.

Ronnie Honeychurch
What is art? No idea, and neither has Ronnie by the looks of it. Until one day this anxious little painter of twee Cornish landscapes accidentally smears one of his tired paintings and begins a journey through impressionism, expressionism, and finally a deadly abstraction. Or something like that. Like I say, I know nothing about art. Like everyone else, I just look at the price tag.

Bill Downder
Bill keeps a diary. Every day he writes what he has for dinner, and what the weather’s like. Then his wife dies. And Bill embarks on a furious spree of writing (well, about 1,000 words)  looking back at the years with humour, regret and an admission that he knew exactly what his wife did with Fish Pie Matthews at the dinner and dance.  I’m sorry, I can’t write any more. I’m welling up.

PC George Thomas
He’s fat, he’s indolent, he wouldn’t know a clue if he saw a great big sign saying ‘Clue!’, and therefore, naturally – and really it goes without saying – he’s absolutely nothing like any policeman in Cornwall or adjacent counties. PC George Thomas is, however, quite the connoisseur of quality biscuits. Join him on a courtesy call to the recently robbed Mrs Grace Pellow, and on a high-tea adventure through Hob Nobs, Chocolate Fingers and beyond.


Cornwall – via India

December 18, 2009

One Big Echo of a Much Nicer Place is selling well in its first week, and I’m happy to say I’m now getting my first sales from India.

When you think about it, it was only natural a book about Cornwall would sell like hot chapatis in the Subcontinent.

We both prize saffron in our cooking.

We both eat pasties (they just call them samosas).

I’m sure there’s plenty more connections.

Bharat mein meri kitab bahut bikein!

(That’s ‘May my book sell many copies in India’ for the few of us Cornish speakers who don’t speak Hindi!)