You Should Come With Me Now
You Should Come With Me Now (Comma Press, October 2017) 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 This is Paradise
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 The Lonely City
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.’
–Robert Macfarlane, author of Landmarks
You Should Come With Me Now is published by Comma Press in October 2017. There’ll be readings & signings at the following events–
23rd October, Warwick University. In conversation with Will Eaves, introduced by Tim Leach. Among other things, we’ll talk about the leaky generic boundaries & heightened realism of these stories. (& here’s what we actually said, courtesy of @LukeRobertMason.)
9th November, Waterstones, Gower Street, with Gary Budden. The Weird & how it grows out of that which isn’t in the slightest weird…
16th November, Waterstones, Bath. Sf is an opportunity to have an intense relationship with your own imagination. It’s a kind of drive-by poetry, trashy & addictive; it’s fun.
21st November, Library Club, London. A fireside chat with Dr. Helen Marshall, one of my favourite authors of the Weird. Tickets here.
30th November, Housman’s Bookshop, in conversation with Lara Pawson. Do you conform the text to the experience or the experience to the text? Truth or dare? Lara’s Gordon Burn-nominated This Is The Place To Be goes for both. I’m slyer.
Look out for “Elf Lands”, an epic fantasy in five volumes & 1000 words, in the Christmas edition of New Scientist.
25th January, DINA, Sheffield, in conversation with Richard Jones. Climbing, science fiction, science. Singularities, naked and otherwise. Damp Lancashire gritstone quarries. Alien physics. Don’t miss this.
‘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, author of American Gods
“poetic, angry and intellectually thrilling”
— Stuart Kelly, Guardian
Author image by Hugo Glendinning