Pushcart Prize nomination


I’m pleased to say that I have been nominated for a a Pushcart Prize for my story ‘Amy’, which appeared in New Short Stories 3. I still have a few copies of the anthology, which you can buy by sending a paypal payment of £6 (includes P + P) to nholdstock@hotmail.com.

Inherent Vice, Chapter 8


PLOT – Doc meets up with his parents; Nixon’s face appears a lot (on banknotes, and TV); Coy Harlingen, pretending to be someone else, disrupts a Nixon rally.

p.113 The parking regulations at Gordita are said to have been devised ‘by fiendish anarchists to infuriate drivers into one day forming a mob and attacking the office of town government’.

If only it were so… I suppose this might be construed as the idea that technology will enslave us, and control us, far more than even the forces of order might have bargained for.


After Doc’s parents get a random phone call, threatening them, Doc reflects that

in the business, paranoia was a tool of the trade, it pointed you in directions you might not have seen to go.

As Michael Wood said in his NYRB review, being crazy can, in a circuitous manner, lead one back to insight.

p. 118 Further parallels between domestic and foreign US policy, with Nixon’s face being found in banknotes, in the same way he was put on bills in Vietnam.

p.122 Coy Harlingen turns out to be a police informant, something that Doc has already been approached about. He is here identified as Ric Doppel, which means ‘double’ in German and might refer here to the ‘doppelganger’-motif or shifting identities in a more general way. The theme seems to be prominent in this chapter. The films mentioned on p.115 belong in this context, for example. In Black Narcissus, Kathleen Byron’s character, Sister Ruth, can be seen as the dark double of Deborah Kerr’s Sister Clodagh. In Robert Wiene’s Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, the somnambulist Cesare commits crimes when he is under the hypnotic spell of the title figure; Caligari himself may be director of a circus attraction or of a psychiatric hospital. In Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, a character called Maria is replaced by a robot.

The Golden Hour Book Vol. 2


Now on sale from Forest Publications, the latest volume of prose, poetry and music (it comes with a CD) from the monthly Golden Hour cabaret at the Forest Cafe in Edinburgh.

It features contributions from Andrew Philip, Alan Gillis, Robert Alan Jamieson, Kapka Kassabova and myself. Ron Butlin, Edinburgh’s current Makar, had this to say about it

‘There is genuine wit, deep feeling and real entertainment in this most enjoyable volume. Light-hearted and serious by turns, ‘The Golden Hour Book Volume II’ contains some of the best and freshest new writing I have come across for quite a while.’

You can now also buy Stolen Stories (an anthology I c0-edited) from the Forest Publications site, as well as many other fine publications.

Reviewing by numbers


There’s a chance of me doing some reviewing in the near future, so I am of course paying particular attention to such pieces, especially the lead sentence. The following, from William T. Vollmann’s review of Philip Caputo’s Crossers, seems like it could be endlessly reused, with only the author’s name altered.

Once when I was so weak with amebic dysentery that all time not spent on the toilet was passed in bed, I found in my host’s house one book in a language I could read. It was one of those storm-tossed but ultimately upbeat women’s romances, a genre I had not yet sampled. I read it, then read it again and again, since there was nothing better to do. If I ever have the luxury of repeating such an experience, I hope to do so with a Philip Caputo book.

All I would need after that is a plot summary and a few sentences of mostly unsubstantiated opinion. That usually does the trick.

Bridport prize shortlist


A story of mine entitled ‘The False River’ has been shortlisted for the Bridport prize.

Whilst this is all very nice, please do not confuse this with me having a) won anything or b) being in contention for anything. The Bridport ‘shortlist’ is actually about 80 people long. The real shortlist is the 13 people who are still in contention for the prize itself. Being shortlisted for the Bridport prize is one of the boxes that short story writers like to check, especially in their bios.

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