book reviews, books, women, writing

The Fireman by Joe Hill

Harper Willowes is an anglophile nurse as an epidemic of a pyromaniacal fungus ravages the world. When she finds she’s pregnant, and also infected with the fungus, she has to seek refuge and keep her unborn child alive.

The central conceit, an apocalypse written from the pov of the zombie/infected balances a warmth and compassion with a ferocity of spirit and craft. Hill lets his pop culture influences inform the writing, and it adds a percussive layer of character and adds a poignant reminder of what was lost, but he doesn’t spare you the horror.

The worst monsters are human, after all. Hill has a tenderness of spirit which makes the harsher aspects resonate in ways which stay with you long after the final page.

In terms of world building, the macguffin of the fungus is smart and allows you to empathise and invest with the infected, good and bad. Hill also uses different textures of storytelling to build a mutually beneficial relationship between story, language and character.

Ben Percy, in his book of writing essays, Thrill Me, talks about writing which welds genre conventions and obligatory scenes with the language and characterisation of literature. For a nerd in remission, Hill puts this hypothesis onto paper and it sings.

The rights to the book are with a studio and it demands a big, epic production to do it justice. But, if you’re like me, read the book and also the audio book, which is a masterwork in its own right, with Kate Mulgrew giving a performance which makes you ache with tenderness and revolt against the worst aspects of the heart.

It is a great book with heart and horror, it burns long after the last page.

My book Until She Sings is out now.

Ebook:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07XJRDND8If

Paperback: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1692105566/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_4akEDb3FTWNKR

My Mailing List for announcements and news with a free short story as a thank you.

https://tinyletter.com/mbblissett

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beauty, books, masculinity, poetry, women

Hermit

What lived here,Sometimes I am prone to envy,Of those who slip away,Give up, lay down and scrabbleBecause failure cuts deep,And you can sustain an infinite amountOf wounds without dying,Here, a place visited,As much a church to meAs any library,But I’ve survived the worst combinations of love and hate,And listen to me,You can too, because there’s a savage,quiet joyin advancing your position,Because the world knocks me off myFeet and I get up,Because I know what a bastard I can be,And those parts of me,They don’t offer sympathy,So much competition,So little reward,But I’m the product of a million year’s evolution,And as much as I love the woods,There are more stages now,And as a bastard in remission,I enter into the fray,Offer my art and soul,Heart and sole,Offered that I’ve been an asshole, tooBut I’m working onBeing destroyed by itReturning, scarred but smiling,And a squirrel climbs a treeGood omensFor the week ahead,Home now,Light and warmth,Smiles which compel me towards the end of the seasonAmbitions and empires no shelterCouldEverContain.My book Until She Sings is out now.

Ebook:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07XJRDND8If

Paperback: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1692105566/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_4akEDb3FTWNKR

My Mailing List for announcements and news with a free short story as a thank you.

https://tinyletter.com/mbblissett

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beauty, books, love, maturity, women

Autumn Ghosts

Autumn Ghosts

Joe stood at the corner of the train station, chatting to a stranger over a cigarette when Keeley arrived. She smiled at the ease with which he carried himself in making the most of his time. When he spoke about his previous marriage, he told her how it used to irritate his wife and the corners of his mouth flickered downward each time.

She worried he hadn’t forgiven himself for leaving but as time went on; she saw him let go of the deepest connections to his past. Christmas was easy, but he had a pensive expression when he watched her children open their presents, thinking of his own, even though they were adults.

They had spent two weeks together, and then less than a week apart before they saw one another. Keeley insisted on her independence. She wasn’t, as she reminded him, his wife. Yet he enjoyed the time away from her. It was, she knew, part of the change he was making for what was a surprise to him.

The failure of his marriage, and his part in it.

Keeley had no concerns about it. He spoke about his faults without seeking pity, and his writing was a scalpel to the tumours of his past. New flesh had grown over the old, and he told her she was the first person to touch this new version of himself. Keeley wondered if it was too much work, but then he would come through the door, taking responsibility without taking it. He spent his youth in a marriage dictated on his wife’s terms over his, when he didn’t know what he wanted.

She wondered what he had been like, young and earnest as he took his vows before experience provided him with a painful education in their application.

He said he failed at his marriage, and he meant it.

Joe looked up from the conversation and grinned at her. His teeth were white against the salmon pink of his lips and his blue eyes twinkled with delight as he excused himself to come over to her.

He slowed down as he came towards her. She heard his sharp intake of breath, smelled the faint tang of tobacco and underneath the sandalwood and cinnamon musk of his skin.

Joe knew each moment of their relationship was a test or a celebration. He had, by all accounts, been a dutiful father and had retained a dopiness which she found endearing. Kindness came to him with a practiced ease and Keeley knew he wore the burden of performance with her, but it was a weight he carried with grace.

Keeley’s heart thumped against her chest. She leaned towards him and they kissed, a light brush which was a promise against the hungry, hot play of their mouths later. The anticipation made her shudder and he took a deep breath before he murmured his appreciation.

The risk in him diminished, but his hands were rough with her in the best way and he knew how to use his strength for her benefit. His liberation and her comfort made them explosive and intuitive lovers, and the heat of it blew away autumn’s ghosts.

She loved him again.

In their deaths, they smiled at them, offered their blessing as they flew into ashes, twinkling like stars.

My book Until She Sings is out now.

Ebook:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07XJRDND8If

Paperback: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1692105566/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_4akEDb3FTWNKR

My Mailing List for announcements and news with a free short story as a thank you.

https://tinyletter.com/mbblissett

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beauty, books, poetry, women

Monster

Do you enjoy the silence?

I left in my wake,

The devastation caused

Each of us has our own share

To admit to, don’t we?

No more hotel rooms now,

And yes you paid for them

But so did I

And sad how much you can

Loathe someone who claims they loved you

But no more,

A phone call and now we exist in mutual silence,

But not respect because my happiness

Isn’t tarnished by you,

And even your revenge was as lumpen and dull as you,

But mine was elegant and final,

We were monsters but in my goodness,

I realised I’m far worse

But at least I’m capable of admitting it,

And yet you, poor you,

Will be recalled with disdain,

If recalled

At

All.

No ill wishes on my part

Other than to be left alone.

My book Until She Sings is out now.

Ebook:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07XJRDND8If

Paperback: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1692105566/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_4akEDb3FTWNKR

My Mailing List for announcements and news with a free short story as a thank you.

https://tinyletter.com/mbblissett

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beauty, love, poetry, women

Birdy

I never got to

See you take flight

But still,

I hear your wings

Kiss the air

And you’ve flown

Something close to south

And I wept in private

Like empty batteries

In a kitchen drawer

But seasons

change

And the other birds

In other nests

Are beautiful

But oh Birdy

Oh Birdy

Oh

Birdy

You will be so loved

And the sea would overflow.

With my tears of joy

To know where you are.

My book Until She Sings is out now.

Ebook:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07XJRDND8If

Paperback: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1692105566/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_4akEDb3FTWNKR

My Mailing List for announcements and news with a free short story as a thank you.

https://tinyletter.com/mbblissett

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Resurfacing

Sunk deep inside the book

Forgot how to breathe with it

Sensitive to the world without

Being destroyed by it

There’s such pleasure in the silence

And these days, I’m cheerful

When it’s pointed out

What errors I’ve made

Because it’s like the Donovan song

First there is a mountain

Then there is no mountain

Then there is

But otherwise, this world I’ve made

Is a forest, serene and resolute

Sit with me, I’ll talk about

What I’ve done

And still,

Struggle to believe it myself

My book Until She Sings is out now.

Ebook:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07XJRDND8If

Paperback: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1692105566/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_4akEDb3FTWNKR

My Mailing List for announcements and news with a free short story as a thank you.

https://tinyletter.com/mbblissett

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beauty, love, men, poetry, women

Hunt

Coat from the wardrobe

Thick like pelt

Adopt a more serious expression

Inside, still at play,

And even dying leaves

Are beautiful to me,

Squirrels and how the dog

Rushes to catch them

Even with the silver in my beard

Still knowing the urge

To hunt

Home to the buttered skin

Warm from sleep

How a cup of tea means

I love you

And all the time

Breathing space and time.

My book Until She Sings is out now.

Ebook:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07XJRDND8If

Paperback: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1692105566/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_4akEDb3FTWNKR

My Mailing List for announcements and news with a free short story as a thank you.

https://tinyletter.com/mbblissett

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