Chip Shop Horrors Paperback – 24 Mar 2015
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Top customer reviews
Chip Shop Horrors presents not so much a series of tales of fast food restaurants – though some are – as about our uneasy relationship with what we put in our mouths.
Ian Whates' "Whatsa Mata?" dives straight into food politics with a what-if question: what if food can just be presented on the table, ping, without needing to go outside for it? What happens? How does the power dynamic shift and who wins and loses? Read on and find out what happens to our hapless inventor.
Matthew Sylvester's "Oi, oi! Saveloy!" follows up his story in the earlier KWP anthology "Potatoes" with the further adventures of his foul-mouthed, brutal but basically on-the-right-side enforcer, this time up against food coming from an unusual source. Good fight scenes as well as you'd expect given the author's skill and familiarity with martial arts and blade weapons.
Chris Amies' "Maria Laxara" – the story of one who believes his home town has turned into a joyless monoculture but a chance encounter in a diner suggests he is quite wrong.
"The Best Tasting Fish and Chips in the Country" by Greg Smith is an effective little horror story.
"Discomfort Food" by Phil Sloman is the story of Rebecca who finds herself caught up in the madness of the fast food industry, where never mind the food it's the people who are ground down. You never get the finest ingredients in places like this …
"Family Secret" by EJ Davies concerns Eric and how he held on to his job. Expect the secrets to be dark.
Paul Gleed's "Dinner and Discontent" set in the Winter of Discontent just before the 1979 elections (and one of few stories ever to mention James Callaghan, the Forgotten Prime Minister I think you could say). It's nostalgic and effective, and yes there is a boy works down the chip shop … etc.
David Thomas Moore's "Shut-In" is a highly claustrophobic portrayal of just that. Pizza delivery rather than take-aways (but I did say not every story here is about chip shops). A sense of disorientation and nightmare prevails throughout.
Shane Porteous' "Salt Insult" reinstates a lighter mood to the proceedings after the previous story. Nicely OTT and with a trick in the tail. I don't think many people have written about the current trend for niche and extremely odd restaurants e.g. cereal restaurants and this isn't it, but it's close.
Stewart Hotston's "Fit for Work" changes the focus to the people involved in the industry – the pointlessness of looking for work when there isn't any, or none that makes any sense, and the adventures of young Radley who doesn't really fit into this world of sanctions and employment advisors.
In all a tasty volume.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The writing is good overall. I enjoyed "Salt Insult" by Shane Porteous. There was some nice wordplay sprinkled throughout this entry which felt like allusions to various other writing styles. I got the sense of an author still in the midst of questing for his unique voice, and that was interesting to see.
There was a dash of magical realism in that story and elsewhere in the collection. This is a group of short stories connected by an interesting theme where anything can and will happen.
For the US readers, let’s define a Chip Shop (aka Chippy): that’s UK lingo for a carry-out dinner (food truck perhaps) that sells fried fish, potatoes, and other foods. Jan Steward’s Foreword’s is bite-size and worth excerpting here to convey the scope:
“We have a strange relationship with food. There are carnivores, herbivores, omnivores, vegans, fruitarians and people who don’t eat carbs, not to mention those who only eat raw food or avoid dairy, sugar or fat completely. Of course, there are those who can’t afford to eat, can’t find food even if they could afford it or are forced to go without so others can survive. Did I just compare first world life style choices with starvation and the results of famine in other parts of the world? Maybe–but then I did say we have a strange relationship with food.
In many countries now we pay other people to do our cooking for us, with the emphasis on speed and variety, ease and value for money. Except behind that façade there are whole industries of unease, of turkeys kicked like footballs, of people working hand to mouth, of distaste and disgust. Occasionally that discomfort rises to the surface, the drive for profit and effortless combining to produce horrors we work hard to turn our eyes from. In this anthology we explore some of that unease, whether it’s food coming from other worlds or even galaxies, servings of people, sauces to die for or customers who we’d probably not want to think to hard about, these stories will uncover your disgust and your discomfort. But beware, some of these characters are artists, others are demented, yet all are at the heart of what we call fast food.
I hope you never look at a chip shop the same way again." (Jan Steward 2015)
Chip Shop Horrors - Menu
1. Whatsa Mata? by Ian Whates
2. Oi, Oi! Saveloy! by Matthew Sylvester
3. Maria Laxara by Chris Amies
4. The best tasting fish and chips in the county by Greg Smith
5. Discomfort food by Phil Sloman
6. Family secrets by E J Davies
7. Dinner and discontent by Paul Gleed
8. Shut In by David Thomas Moore
9. Salt insult by Shane Porteous
10. Fit for work by Stewart Hotston
The first three have sci-fi/otherworldy elements, with a tribute to the infamous “George Forman grill”, hungry aliens, and otherworldy Maria Laxara (phantom island). Three of the remaining seven plumb the lure of eating the homeless or abject; expect lots of meat pies served from street vendors, with queues (lines) of the hungry, poor, or evil salivating over secret recipes. The food industry has plenty of down-and-out employees and employers, and this collection explores all angles. Porteous kindly breaks the dreary trend with a humorous conflict, and the last adventure is criminal. My favorites were Solman’s Discomfort food and Thomas Moore’s Shut In, since they featured insane characters with splendid, weird styles: these both brought their food to life, so hamburgers and pizza took on character-status in their own right.
Chip Shop Horror is a solid collection recommended for horror fans…or those suspicious of fast-food.
Whatsa Mata? by Ian Whates is a great look at the unintended consequences that arise when dealing with matters well beyond one’s understanding. The author presents a unique idea that revolutionizes the food industry, but as they say, the devil is in the details.
Oi, Oi! Saveloy! by Matthew Sylvester takes the reader behind the scenes at a small eatery where the main character discovers a “nightmare kitchen” that would send Gordon Ramsey running for the hills.
Maria Laxara by Chris Amies puts Sam Weaver face to face with some unusual patrons in an equally unusual café. The fare is something of an acquired taste, but one that only a select few will experience.
The best tasting fish and chips in the county by Greg Smith divulges the secret recipe which is the reason for the title. This one will leave you cringing in a corner and questioning whether or not to accept a free meal ever again.
Discomfort food by Phil Sloman takes the tell-tale heart and drops it into a fast food location. The mocking, accusatory food items were both funny and disturbing, and Rebecca’s psychosis was very believable.
Family Secrets by EJ Davies is a tale of a man on the verge of failure who finds hope once more amidst a terrible accident. Yet all dark deeds demand a price, one that Eric never could have imagined.
In Dinner and discontent by Paul Gleed, the chef uses a unique ingredient to bring in the customers. Yet one customer is intimately familiar with that particular cuisine, and trouble follows in his wake. The twist in fate within this story was well placed.
Shut In by David Thomas Moore is the disturbing monologue of a guilt-ridden, deranged mind. The descriptive writing leaves the reader holding their breath and reaching to open a window and let in some fresh air for the poor, disgusting bloke.
Salt insult by Shane Porteous finds the protagonist, Matthew in a precarious stand-off over of all things: a condiment. The absurdity of someone taking a stand over salt tied together with the life or death stakes of the confrontation makes this a very entertaining story.
Fit for work by Stewart Hotston is the story of a man who’s extremely poor decisions put him in a “last chance” scenario. He soon finds out that a mistake in this new delivery job could land him in prison, or worse yet, in the grave.
Chip Shop Horrors had many sick, disgusting and disturbing scenes, yet also provides a lot of exciting action and some hearty laughs. Grab a copy and enjoy at your favorite chippy today.