London Calling tours London. Jeremy Page’s novella and stories

September 24th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

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There is a thing going on of Cultured Llama books literally (and literarily) going on tour (see Unusual Places in unusual places). Jeremy Page’s London Calling and Other Stories has been spotted, on Twitter, on the top of a Routemaster bus in Piccadilly and in other London locations. Jeremy Page is well-known as the editor of The Frogmore Papers. Jeremy doesn’t ‘do’ social media, but @FrogmorePress has been taking the book out and about.

At the heart of Jeremy Page’s collection of long, short and flash fiction is the eponymous novella, London Calling, a comic tour-de-force set in a 1980s squat. Other stories feature a woman who remains in bed due to ennui, murder in a crime bookshop, and all the small resentments of a marriage condensed into two paragraphs. These are stories for our strange, unsettling times.

978-1-9164128-1-1. Cultured Llama. PB. 203×127mm. 152pp. September 2018. Short Stories. £12.00

In these clever, surprising stories, Page’s delicately delineated fictional characters struggle with marital micro-aggressions, the pathos of loss, and the mythical significance of a can of Special Brew. These are fictions which explore, with admirable poetic compression and superb control of imagery, the nature of reality; seemingly innocuous ‘realistic’ situations rapidly slide into alarming surreality. Language and meaning should be fixed and stable, but aren’t; miscommunication and misunderstanding cause the ground beneath characters’ feet to tilt, often alarmingly, leaving the reader both satisfied and unsettled. These are stories for our strange, unsettling times.

Catherine Smith, Writer, author of The Biting Point

Order for £12 plus p&p: London Calling and Other Stories

Post and packaging is free if you buy two or more books.

Our first ebooks, As Long as it Takes and Unusual Places

September 20th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

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Until now, Cultured Llama books have only been available in paperback. Not anymore! Our first two ebook publications are Unusual Places, a new story collection by Louise Tondeur, and As Long as it Takes, by Maria C. McCarthy, first published in paperback in 2014.

Grandma’s stories, ‘…would always start in the place where we were,’ and so it is with Unusual Places. Human remains are concealed in the Greenwich Tunnel in a world where London is a prison; a market is the setting for sexual and sensual awakenings; a professional picnicker finds love. Louise Tondeur’s stories skip along, rich with detail and musical prose, only to trip us up with turns and surprises: the unusual lurks in the most ordinary of places.

These are the stories you might feel surging around you as you walk down a crowded city street, every one its own world of tenderness, violence, absurdity and joy.

Joanne Limburg, author of Small Pieces, A Want of Kindness and The Woman Who Thought Too Much

Tondeur’s eye for detail is so precise, you might fear being in her presence, lest she see your secrets, too. What a tender, dark, nuanced book: a quiet storm.

Leone Ross, author of Come Let Us Sing Anyway, All the Blood is Red andOrange Laughter

The ebook costs £5.99 and is available from Cultured Llama and all the usual online retailers: Unusual Places

As Long as it Takes gives voice to the lost generation of Irish women who sailed to England to look for work in the middle of the twentieth century. Maura Flaherty and her daughters struggle with identity, belonging, love, sexuality and grief – and dilemmas such as whether to like punk or Elvis.

With no concessions to nostalgia or sentimentality, this deeply moving and beautifully written book, by a second-generation Irish writer, tells the interwoven stories of an immigrant family. Maria C. McCarthy skilfully weaves the historical and cultural significance of Anglo-Irish relations into a half-century of family life.

Maria C. McCarthy was the winner of the Society of Authors Tom-Gallon Trust Award 2015. The winning story, ‘More Katharine than Audrey’, appears in As Long as it Takes. Here are the judges’ remarks:

The writer weaves a sensual, tactile, restrained and ultimately very stylish story of loss cut through with make-belief. Because the writing is so clean, and the handling of pace so clever, the story is allowed to tell itself. It’s an unusual, rich and extremely satisfying picture of lives not lived, but ‘dreamed of’. Elanor Dymott

Impressively compressed. Aamer Hussein

The ebook costs £5.99 and is available from Cultured Llama and all the usual online retailers: As Long as it Takes


New poetry The Other Guernica and Family Likeness

September 20th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

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Two new poetry collections are available from Cultured Llama:

The Other Guernica: Poems Inspired by Spanish Art, by Derek Sellen

Family Likeness, by Michael Curtis.

Inspired by Spanish artists from the 15th century to the 21st, The Other Guernica invites us into worlds of violence and love, war and domesticity, in a collection that is both a coherent homage to the painting of Spain, and a daring exploration of what might emerge when word meets image. Read with or without the images that inspired them, Derek Sellen’s poems are equally powerful.

This is a work of outstanding richness and variety, imagination, thought, storytelling, full of vivid imagery and the pleasures of language.

Professor Janet Montefiore

Links to the paintings

Buy the book for £10 plus p&p (free postage and packing if you buy two or more books from Cultured Llama): The Other Guernica: Poems Inspired by Spanish Art 


In Family Likeness, Michael Curtis describes a vivid and at times unsettling world. There are moving and apt memorials to war dead and to family members, some only recently uncovered from a hidden past. Alongside a portrait of post-war life as a child in Liverpool and perfectly rendered scenes of Kentish life here and now, these poems span time with compassion and insight to make a substantial and impressive collection.

Buy the book for £10 plus p&p (free postage and packing if you buy two or more books from Cultured Llama): Family Likeness

Also by Michael Curtis: The Fire in Me Now 

Unusual Places in unusual places. Stories by Louise Tondeur

September 20th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

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To mark the publication of Unusual Places, Louise Tondeur has been returning to each of the places where the stories began, and leaving a book for a stranger to find. Louise writes:

I wrote these stories on location in various places, mainly in London, including Greenwich Park, the Tate Gallery, outside the Roman Amphitheatre and in a café near the smallest house in London. I ended up with a set of intriguing characters – such as woman conceived in a marmalade factory, a girl who finds true love (and a bed for the night) over a card game called Scrummage, and a professional picnicker who finds love because of a blue plastic bag.

Follow Louise on Twitter to discover where books were left and who found them @LouiseTondeur

There are now TWO ways to read Unusual Places: in paperback or ebook. Both formats can be purchased direct from Cultured Llama or the usual suppliers.

Grandma’s stories, ‘…would always start in the place where we were,’ and so it is with Unusual Places. Human remains are concealed in the Greenwich Tunnel in a world where London is a prison; a market is the setting for sexual and sensual awakenings; a professional picnicker finds love. Louise Tondeur’s stories skip along, rich with detail and musical prose, only to trip us up with turns and surprises: the unusual lurks in the most ordinary of places.

Paperback, £12 plus p&p: Unusual Places. Ebook, £5.99 


The joy of Jessica’s poetry – Flood reviewed

July 2nd, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

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We are delighted with Lyn Greenwood’s review of Flood by Jessica Mookherjee, on MsLexia Max.

Pleasure begins with touch for this slim volume of poetry by Jessica Mookherjee. The matt laminate cover feels velvety and cool: the colours and design are calm and simple – a book to travel with you.

Taking advice from another reviewer quoted on the back cover, I first read Flood in one sitting, whilst turning the corners to signal a reread for each poem that intrigued me. The number of bent edges increased through the book and I had a sense of progression through a life, a wholeness which may not have appeared had I dipped in and out of the poems. But when revisited more slowly and individually these poems show more depth and meaning than at first may be apparent […]

… this is not a ‘domestic’ collection by any means: there are also gods, the Holocaust and Grenfell. Structure is important, sometimes with repeated lines urging us to look again with different eyes at what she shows us (Growing up in Nightclubs). Most of the poems fit to a page, but some are longer and one (The Thirst) is printed sideways: I’m not sure why, though it spoke to me of the power and the seduction of paranoia and shared history, the way events can appear so different and so true when seen from another’s point of view.

This is part of the joy of Jessica’s poetry: she shows you what you think you know, places you may have been, and then twists the viewpoint so you look again and see something new and strange. Her poems are windows onto scenes ranging from the UK to India and the Pleiades; from now back to the painting of the Lascaux Caves, via 1967 and Taliesin. They are both personal and universal and I hope we will hear a lot more from this strong and thoughtful poet.

Order Jessica Mookherjee’s debut poetry collection for £10 plus p&p: Flood

Fiction4 summer reading discount on short fiction

June 27th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

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Four fabulous fiction collections are discounted this summer. Just apply the coupon Fiction4 at the checkout when you order one or more of these titles:

Who Killed Emil Kreisler, by Nigel Jarrett

Postcards from a dead woman; a tale told in letters, centred on a strange musical instrument; the journey of Bismarck’s helmet … In Who Killed Emil Kreisler? Nigel Jarrett takes the reader through centuries and across continents to places well beyond their comfort zone.

The Lost of Syros, by Emma Timpany

In The Lost of Syros, a debut collection of stories by Emma Timpany, revelations come unexpectedly: in a shower of gold on a snow-covered volcano in Antarctica; at a graffiti-scarred Aboriginal sacred site; in a mouthful of cake. Precise and delicately written, these stories are little windows into life.

A Witness of Waxwings, by Alison Lock

A Witness of Waxwings invites us into worlds of shifting time and identities, where brutal reality is often witnessed through a liminal lens. Within these stories are shifts of light, perception, slips into other realms, where people are inhabited by birds, selkies and sprites. There are ghosts in the ocean, faces in the wake. Alison Lock’s fictional world is a route map to unexplored mindscapes.

Only the Visible Can Vanish, by Anna Maconochie

Love, sex and dating, the daily grind of work in Future Digital, being the other woman, the other man, Beauty and the Beast retold, rabbits, rats and foxes… In Only the Visible Can Vanish, Anna Maconochie brings tales of transformation and hidden identity, revealing the superficiality and depths of life in the internet age.

Post and packing is free when you order two or more titles, so why not treat yourself this summer. The offer ends on 31 August 2018. Go to the links to start your order:

Who Killed Emil Kreisler 

The Lost of Syros

A Witness of Waxwings

Only the Visible Can Vanish

If you like Black Mirror, you’ll like Dip Flash, by Jonathan Pinnock

June 20th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

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Jonathan Pinnock’s is a ‘weird and wonderful world’, according to Maryom, who reviews Dip Flash for Our Book Reviews Online:

It’s a world where ventriloquist’s dummies come to life, your wife might run off with a porpoise, or morph into a cat, and if your granny’s becoming too expensive to keep, there’s a way to release her equity. But you’d better hold on tight to your memories – if they start to disappear, then so will so much more…

Jonathan Pinnock’s latest collection of stories is like a montage of strange dreams you might have after too much cheese (there’s a story about that as well!). From short, hilarious anecdotes to longer tales that will twist your mind, they’re stories to amuse, intrigue and occasionally terrify you (‘Teamwork’ was horrifically claustrophobic for me).

I’ve puzzled over how to categorise this collection, and to be honest given up. Reading them is like seeing the world reflected in the fairground Hall of Mirrors – recognisable but a little warped. Sci-fi or fantasy might apply as a label for some, but by no means all. My favourites – Adagio Assai, and The Picture of Mrs Tandogan – aren’t that at all, but stories of people like you and me, striving for something perfect in life, or stumbling through it without paying the slightest bit of attention. All in all, an interesting set of stories, thought-provoking, funny, and/or scary; good, I’d suggest for watchers of ‘Black Mirror’.

Order Jonathan Pinnock’s story collection for £12 plus p&p: Dip Flash

Buy two or more books and postage and packing is free: find more Stories

Profound in simplicity and life-affirming, The Year of the Crab

June 20th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

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Gordon Meade’s ‘brave and unflinching’ poetry collection, The Year of the Crab, is reviewed by Cathy McGrath on The High Window. The poems chronicle the year following Meade’s cancer diagnosis and through his treatment. McGrath writes:

Everywhere Meade looks there are reminders of his reality. Otherwise ordinary observations become metaphors for the horror that he is facing. His initial enjoyment of watching woodpeckers in ‘The Family Name’ leads to the discovery that their family name is ‘descent’; it is obvious that everything is tainted. Meade is confronted with his own mortality and unable to escape his spiralling thoughts; it is his refusal to pretend but his decision to catalogue daily events through the lens of fear that makes this collection brave and unflinching.

The reader is spared little, and there are, as McGrath writes, ‘no saccharin happy ever afters’; however, ‘The final few poems in the collection are like breathing out after being underwater for too long.’

It is the penultimate poem though, ‘The Care Team,’ that moved me most in this collection. As Meade acknowledges the silent suffering of his family during his treatment, his wife: ‘one night, crying in the kitchen’ and his daughter ‘afraid’, we as readers are reminded that so many people are affected by cancer, not just the sufferers themselves and that it is the  ‘nurturing and non-invasive love’ alongside medical treatments that give people the oxygen they need to survive.

For his finale Meade, of course, returns to the sea, but now it has ‘turned autumnal’. He is aware that everything is ‘more threatening’, the colours no longer white but ‘grey and black’. Meade no longer reads the earthbound signs to know that he has passed his summer season, but acknowledges that it is from the unpredictable, unchained:

Sky above us, by the birds that fly
around us and, mostly, by the sea’

that we can tell ‘everything’. Life is constantly swirling, swooping and scudding by. Meade encourages us, with a warning, to embrace the elements.

Julian Colton, reviewing in The Eildon Tree, Issue 30, finds that ‘Meade pulls no punches’ in a collection ‘centred on pain and stark life and death choices’.

Having seen and heard Gordon Meade read I know he is probably a writer best appreciated at a live event where his wonderful softly spoken vocal style brings out the little nuances and inflections in the text. Though focused on the strong possibility and nature of death throughout, these poems are profound in their simplicity and immensely life-affirming.

Order Gordon Meade’s poetry collection for £10 plus p&p:The Year of the Crab

Order two or more books from this website, and p&p is free. Gordon Meade has two other collections published by Cultured Llama: Sounds of the Real World and Les Animots: A Human Bestiary, with images by Doug Robertson.

A Witness of Waxwings longlisted, and Vanessa Gebbie’s stories reviewed

April 26th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

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We were delighted to discover that A Witness of Waxwings, short stories by Alison Lock, made the longlist of the Saboteur Awards. Congratulations to Alison, and kudos to Cultured Llama.

Vanessa Gebbie’s story collection, A Short History of Synchronised Breathing is reviewed in Tears in the Fence. The review also covers a collection by Leonora Carrington. Richard Foreman writes:

In perhaps one of the most impressive stories in this collection, ‘Captain Quantum’s Universal Entertainment’, Gebbie’s central character is guided through a bizarre fairground, whilst writing a report on its performers and features for an obscure journal. Star performers,the Great Maximilian, jongleur extraordinaire, and Lucille, the Incredible Shrinking Bearded Lady are about to perform an incredible feat […] it becomes apparent that the story is a loose analogy for the operations of a Particle Accelerator. […]

I am impressed by Vanessa Gebbie’s approach to her writing – she appears to relish taking a risk and in doing so extends the form of the short story in a multitude of ways.

Buy Vanessa Gebbie’s book for £12 plus p&p here: A Short History of Synchronised Breathing

add in Alison Lock’s collection for £12, and p&p is free (for two or more books): A Witness of Waxwings

A sense of endings. There are Boats on the Orchard

April 26th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

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Maria C McCarthy’s illustrated pamphlet, There are Boats on the Orchard, is reviewed by Neil Leadbetter in Write Out Loud.

This  attractively produced, pocket-sized poetry pamphlet, designed by Mark Holihan with illustrations by Sara Fletcher, chronicles seven years of living alongside the disappearing orchards of Kent […]

The title of this collection hints at displacement. What are “grass-locked vessels” doing in an orchard?  Displacement runs through the collection in a series of sightings. It is to be found in the image of the car on the footpath instead of the road, human detritus in the hedgerow, the juxtaposition of natural and manmade objects, of brambles and plastic boxes, blackberries and asbestos panels, plums and Stella cans. These ‘list’ poems bring out the best in McCarthy, they hold our attention with a surprise at every turn. In ‘Orchard Inventory,’ for example, she writes of


A horsebox spilling cushions and chicken wire;

an Olympia portable typewriter;


A ride-on mower in a hut with a broken lock;

a Black and Decker workmate; a plastic box;


asbestos panels with feathered splits; a trampoline;

a vacuum cleaner; bones; a shipping container; a swing.


It is telling that the very last entry that is mentioned in the inventory is trees.

There is also a sense of endings – of autumn, of shrivelled fruit as a metaphor for the demise of all the orchards, of trees being felled, of bulldozers, bonfires, planning notices and the burnt-out shell of a car.

This collection is a moving depiction of the changing face of our orchards, beautifully observed by a writer who cares deeply for the preservation of our natural world.

Read the full review:Write Out Loud

Maria C. McCarthy’s pamphlet is available exclusively from Cultured Llama, and costs £7 plus p&p. Order it here:There are Boats on the Orchard