You Should Come With Me Now
‘The wit and effortless elegance of the writing are impeccable.’
– Ursula K Le Guin
You Should Come With Me Now (Comma Press) features eighteen short stories and numerous items of flash fiction (many of the latter will be recognisable to habitues of the Ambiente Hotel), written between 2001 and 2015 and organised to bring out the themes the way a novel might. Yes they are short stories, but yes the book is a thing in itself.
‘These stories map a rediscovered fictional hinterland, one tucked behind the glossier edifices of modernity and genre with views down alleyways into pubs and flats where Patrick Hamilton glares balefully at J. G. Ballard.’
– Will Eaves, author of Murmur
Several of the full-sized stories, including “The Crisis”, “Jack of Mercy’s” and “The Old Fox” have never been published before, although you may have heard me read one or two of them at events (including Irradiating the Object at Warwick U, and the notorious Stoke Newington pop-up gig in 2015); several more have appeared online, or in limited or out-of-the-way publications such as The Independent on Sunday, and will therefore be new to most readers.
Formal & generic boundaries, as usual, go unrecognised. Fiction empties its seed into its alter ego, nonfiction. Landscapes are written about, but there will be no landscape writing. Ghosts appear, but not in the ghost stories. Animals feature heavily, but there is nothing here that might be described as “animal fiction”. There is a story which seems to be about dogs until it takes a startling & inexplicable turn for the worse; and another which makes telling reference to the DNA of Richard the Third’s horse. There is less sex than you would expect, but some hauntology.
‘M. John Harrison’s slippery, subversive stories mix the eerie and familiar into beguiling, alarming marvels. No one writes quite like him; no one I can think of writes such flawless sentences, or uses them to such disorientating effect.’
– Olivia Laing, author of Crudo
Other content includes: a distributed sword & sorcery trilogy; two or three full-size sci-fi novels, one of which is two sentences and forty eight words long (fifty if you count the title); several visits to that non-place Autotelia, some that identify as such and some that don’t; and two final dispatches from that other non-place Viriconium, neither of which would get house-room in an anthology of epic fantasy. There is a very angry story which seems to be about an invasion from the astral plane; or perhaps space; or perhaps the financial services industry. If you can read, you can read these stories; and here I am, in some little films, reading a few of the shorter ones.
‘There are perhaps three or four writers at work today whose new books I seek out with an avidity bordering on fanaticism. M. John Harrison is one of them. His sentences have the power to leave the world about you unsteadied; glowing and perforated in strange ways. He combines sharp clarity of vision with deep compassion of heart; a merciful eagle. Once read, these stories ghost you for days and weeks afterwards.’
‘M. John Harrison moves elegantly, passionately, from genre to genre, his prose lucent and wise, his stories published as SF or as fantasy, as horror or as mainstream fiction. In each playing field, he wins awards, and makes it look so easy. His prose is deceptively simple, each word considered and placed where it can sink deepest and do the most damage.’
– Neil Gaiman
‘The essential collection of the year’
— Locus Magazine
‘[A] quiet giant of British writing… extraordinarily flexible prose. It’s restrained and luminous’
– The Daily Telegraph
‘Harrison draws out his ghostly characters from behind the bones of the plot, allowing their stories to be emotional, poignant and disquietingly possible…’
– Lamorna Ash, The Times Literary Supplement
‘His novels have been likened to J.G. Ballard’s, but these stories are more like satirical set pieces than brooding psycho-fictions: genial and generous, finding wry mirth in absurdity.’
– Houman Barekat, The Spectator
‘A new book by M. John Harrison is an event. The recurring idea in many of the stories is the need for escape, and the impossibility of it… In other hands, this might come across as cynical or hectoring, but Harrison is far too subtle a writer for that. There is genuine sorrow here… and genuine anger too…’
-Abigail Nussbaum, The New Scientist
‘These stories are unsettling and dense, deeply engaging, highly emotionally wrought and consistently impressive.’
– Minor Literatures
‘…if you are willing to follow the sometimes apparently random breadcrumb trails that Harrison uses for plots, you can find yourself in a space somewhere outside of genre altogether, even outside of conventional narrative, but one that can leave you feeling as though you’ve just awoken from a strange and vivid dream, and that, at its best – which it often is here – can be ineluctably brilliant.’
– Gary K. Wolfe, Locus Magazine
‘With You Should Come With Me Now, Harrison once again gifts readers a text that is as much a set of linguistic, philosophical, and psychological tools for interpreting themselves and the world as it is a story collection.’
– Strange Horizons
‘Harrison’s most interesting work picks and chooses multiple genres, mixing them into fictional brews of dreamlike intensity that can haunt your mind for days after reading them… You Should Come With Me Now cements his reputation as a master of what Mark Fisher has termed the ‘weird and the eerie’.’
– Patrick Langley, The White Review
Author image by Hugo Glendinning