- File Size: 579 KB
- Print Length: 314 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1470975858
- Publisher: Guilty Conscience (November 26, 2011)
- Publication Date: November 26, 2011
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B006EU1E7S
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,295,473 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Off The Record 1 - A Charity Anthology (38 Short Stories Based On Classic Song Titles) Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Neil White begins with "Stairway to Heaven", about the fate of a prisoner doing time for murder one. He dreams of the ultimate escape, but his sins may not take him in the direction desired. Depressing story, but with a fitting conclusion.
"Respect" by Col Bury takes place in contemporary England. A gang of street toughs are waiting for their order in a take-out place. But another patron is waiting for his too. They think he's weak. They are about to find out just how wrong they are. Reads like a superhero "origin".
"God Moving Over the Face of the Waters" by Steve Mosby is creepy. It's told from the point-of-view of a man who saw the sea take someone dear to him. He's never left the coast and spends his days searching for the bodies of drowning victims. In the end, we're never quite sure if the sea itself is the killer.
Les Edgerton contributes with "Small Change". Two men sit at a bar and talk. One is a former convict, the other a writer. The convict tells the story of a punk who tried to shoot him. In the end we learn why a 0.38 works different than a 0.22.
"I Wanna Be Your Dog" happens to be my favorite song by Iggy and The Stooges. It's also the title of a story contribution by Heath Lowrance. This one starts out about a young punk scowling over the funeral of his father. It quickly turns into a story about the upbringing of a serial killer.
A J Hayes offers "Light My Fire". An artist who has committed murder finally confronts his pursuer and has the chance to explain himself. He manages to come to terms with what he has done and the punishment for it fits the crime.
"Redemption Song" by Sean Patrick Readon is the tale of six Irish kids who turn into gangsters in Boston. But the particulars of their growing up involves a death. A death which will soon be revenged in a gruesome manner.
"Down In the Tube Station at Midnight" by Ian Ayris goes back to the UK. It's a short segment in the life of a hit man who hates his job. He's got another assignment and regrets what he has to do. But it pays well. Plus, he has a family to support.
Nick Triplow's "A New England" is another story from the other side of the lake. A riot squad is going into action against a potential outbreak of political violence. They've trained hard, but anything can and will happen. It feels like a slide picture dropped from a history book.
"Shelia Take a Bow" by Charlie Wade is easy the creepiest story in the collection. A small businessman has to get rid of his buxom secretary because his wife has taken a dislike to her. The wife also has a wicked swing with a golf club. And this is just the beginning.
Ian Rowan's `Purple Haze" has two university students slumming through a housing project looking for some good drugs. But they walk into a deal gone bad. What results is the biggest rush of their lives.
My favorite story in the collection is "Free Bird" by Thomas Pluck. A Vietnam veteran and his son share a bonding experience around the father's Trans Am. Whereas most of these stories have bad ends, this one actually surprised me with an uplifting conclusion.
"Venus in Furs" by Matthew C. Funk manages to get in the spirit of the original Velvet Underground song. A crook finds himself in a codependent relationship with a femme fatale. She wants him to make the ultimate sacrifice for her. Will he do it?
"Dock of the Bay" by R. Thomas Brown manages to be topical and grim at the same time. A banker is on his way down. He's caught his wife with another man, but comes up with a sinister plan for revenge.
"Shadowboxer" by Chris Rhatigan left me a little confused. It's a stream-of-consciousness story told from the view of a man on the run. Or is it? He's racing past lone towns and isolated farms in the American mid-west. I think.
"Roll Me Away" by Patti Abbot concerns a motorcycle racer and his lust for glory. He achieves transcendence in the end, but not the kind I'd like.
Chad Rohrbacher's "I Wanna Be Sedated" begins with a man observing his own funeral. He then goes on to watch his son grow up and make some of his same mistakes. But his grandson may turn out better. A nice, but bitter story from inside the head of a dying man. I think.
"Back in Black- A Hiram Van Story" by Court Merrigan begins with the protagonist telling two russian girls: `If you want to live, listen to me.' The girls have rolled a Russian mobster and they're on the run. The teller may be too late to save them.
"Life on Mars?" by Paul Brazill reads like an unpublised section of A Clockwork Orange. Two English punks survive their regin of terror on the local community with one in jail and the other going off to college and becoming respectable. But the jailbird eventually gets out and tracks down his old companion.
"Superstition" by Nick Boldock is the only story in this collection with a supernatural twist. A gambler discovers the cat hanging around his house can bring him good luck. But sometimes good luck streaks come to an end.
"Bye Bye Baby" by Victoria Watson is a little hard to write about. A mother refuses to come to grips with a tragedy and more depressing scenes occur. Not for new parents with anxiety.
"Blood on the Dance Floor" is the offering from Benoit Lelievre. I enjoyed his selection in the last Beat to a Pulp anthology, so I was looking forward to his contribution in this one. He doesn't disappoint. Two smooth dancers at a club challenge each other to a competition for the hottest girl. But be careful for what you wish for because you just might get it.
"American Pie" by Ron Earl Phillips goes in a different direction than I had expected. Tons of ink have been written about the classic Don McLean song (somebody even spent two years putting together a series of tapes on it). Phillips uses it as a tale of baseball and broken dreams. There is a ray of light at the end.
"Detroit Rock City" by Chris La Tray would make a good opening to a drive-in movie. Two Bonnie and Clyde wannabees attempt to rob an Indian casino with unexpected results.
Nigel Bird's "Super Trouper" has a war vet buying a pair of shoes. This allows him to tell an interesting story of what happened in Afghanistan. You can't be too careful.
"So Low, So High" is from Pete Sortwell. A man argues with his doctor about the medication he's taking. It's either the start or conclusion of something horrible.
"Behind Blue Eyes" by Julie Morrigan is a good adaptation on the old Who song. I always thought the original was about a gunfighter in the wild west. Her take involves a British gangster and the underling who tried to rip him off. Sometimes hard decisions have to be made.
"Paranoid" by David Barber. It's a good interpretation of Black Sabbath. Now we know what drove the man in the song insane.
"Nights in White Satin" by McDroll isn't exactly what I thought the Moody Blues song was about, but it works just the same. A woman suffering from mental issues comes to a bad conclusion.
"Be my Baby- Killing for Company" by Cath Bore is a police procedural story about a crime scene investigator looking into a murdered youth. Plus points for an original ending I didn't expect.
"California Dreamin'" by Eric Beetner is a tale of love and revenge which fits the landscape to perfection. The ending is a little unresolved, but it works just the same.
Told mostly in the form of a conversation "A Day in the Life- How Many Holes" by Steve Weddle concerns a man taking a lady friend to see her dying mother. We do learn a lot about both of them on the trip.
"The Karma Police" by Darren Sant is a variation on "The Most Dangerous Game" . In the future, contestants fight for survival and the game is televised.
Simon Logan's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is an industrial fiction story set in the near future. A graffiti artist is paid by a corporate sponsor to paint one more slogan. But he has a unique interpretation to the job.
"Comfortably Numb" by editor Luca Veste is about a British bag snatcher, or a "grab and run" artist. He's been snatching women's purses for years, but his biggest target just might lead to a final downfall.
"Death or Glory" by Nick Quantrill is another painful tale. A man decided to keep his band together over the years and work a crap job on the side. Fame eludes him while his wife's career takes off. Anyone whoever lived for music can identify with this one.
"Two Little Boys" by Helen FitzGerald strays into Margaret St. Clair territory with a story about two gay men and a psychotic relationship councilor. Black humor at it's finest.
Finally, Ray Banks gives us his take on The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows". This is a familiar story of a love relationship gone sour. The woman strives onward while the husband turns into a useless pile. The ending comes with rivers of blood.
This is another excellent collection of short crime fiction by an assortment of current writers. It's of uniform high quality. I was glad to see some authors I'm already familiar with standing next to ones I've just discovered. There's a lot to look forward to from all of them.
One student cleverly brought in Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue's 'Where The Wild Roses Grow' and most of the class were more than somewhat shocked to find out that this song that they had known so well was about murder. And not about gardening, I assume.
So, song titles can be deceptive. An innocent title can hide a darker story.
So, when Luca Veste asked a bunch of writers to come up with short, sharp stories inspired by song titles, well, it came as no surprise that quite a few of them came up with some pitch black tales.
I have a story in Off The Record (which is a charity anthology) and there are 37 other stories from a wide range of authors, including Simon Logan, Steve Mosby and Helen Fitzgerald.
And this really is a terrific collection. Off The Record is bookended by two heartbroken tales from Neil White and Ray Banks. And there are plenty other hard hitting stories here too.
Favourites include Heath Lowrence's 'I Wanna Be Your Dog,' Les Edgerton's 'Small Change,'Nick Quantrill's 'Death Or Glory,'Thomas Pluck's 'Free Bird,' Iain Rowan''Purple Haze' and Ron Earl Phillips 'American Pie.'
But there are lots more cracking tales in Off The Record, which is very highly recommended.
With thirty-eight stories you would expect a few fillers but like the playlist the titles are taken from, it's all good stuff. Neil White - yes that Neil White - kicks off with Stairway to Heaven, a tight piece of psychological fiction from within a prison cell, and things get progressively darker and meaner as the collection goes on.
Want to know the difference between a headshot with a .22 and a .38? It's in here, courtesy of bona fide ex-con turned author Les Edgerton, who's story Small Change also has a cameo from everyones favourite gravel-throated singer.
Wife cheating on you? Thomas R Brown's Dock of the Bay has a readymade revenge scheme, guaranteed to work if you've got the balls to see it through. For the ladies, Charlie Wade's excellent Take a Bow Sheila has a more demure solution. Involving pruning shears.
Noir fans are very well catered for in Off The Record, with Brit Pack stalwarts Paul D. Brazill and Col Bury lining up with literary outlaws from the other side, Steve Weddle, Matthew C Funk and Tommy Pluck - all working to their usual high standards. Pluck's Free Bird is a beautifully constructed story about the strength it takes not to act; may bring a tear to your eye.
A couple of gems I have to mention - Eric Beetner's California Dreamin' is fabulous and you can hear the song as you're reading it, that sense of sun cracked nastiness under a pretty melody, full of suspense and with a killer ending. Shadowboxer by Chris Rhatigan was another standout, deceptively simple - a man trying to outrun just-seen pursuers - but the writing is tense as hell.
Seriously? You're tough.
Heath Lowrance's I Wanna Be You Dog is the nastiest story here - which is a compliment in this company - and really does justice to the grimy, driving quality of the song. Helen Fitzgerald's Two Little Boys is probably the funniest, bringing out the homoerotic subtext you always suspected was there. Special mention to Ray Banks' God Only Knows for a having a woman with a backside that looked like `two Volkswagen Beetles crashed in her leggings.'
The editor's own contribution, Comfortably Numb, is typical Veste, a parable from the gutter told in a pitch perfect voice.
Off The Record is an incredibly strong collection, thirty-eight stories for pocket change and all proceeds going to childrens charities. You'd have to be a flint hearted piece of work not to buy it.
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