Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Off The Record - A Charity Anthology edited by Luca Veste

 Luca Veste should be applauded for putting together such a huge charity project that encompasses thirty Eight writers from the USA and the UK. All profits are going to benefit two children’s literacy charities in the UK and the US. Check out the links below and show them your support:

There are not one but two Forewords. To represent the UK is Matt Hilton. To represent the US is Anthony Neil Smith.

Off The Record’s content is inspired by, as the name might suggest, classic song titles. There is every spectrum of music represented in fictional form including such classic songs as: Stairway To Heaven, Comfortably Numb, Light My Fire, Sheila Take A Bow, Free Bird, Venus In Furs, Life On Mars, Behind Blue Eyes. An eclectic range of choices if ever there was one. Thirty eight voices all putting their unique slant on these classics titles.

This review could be several thousand words long to be honest. Such a huge range of talent is represented. I’ll reign in my gushing enthusiasm and give you a few words about each tale.

Neil White’s Stairway to Heaven brings us a prisoner whose desperation and despair leads him to a fateful act. Col Bury’s Respect features a vigilante who the reader can’t help but root for. Steve Mosby’s God Moving Over The Face Of The Waters is beautifully told and deliciously melancholic and tells of a deep connection with the sea. Les Edgerton's Small Change made me smile with its interesting twist.

Heath Lowrance brings a violent and disturbing but intelligently told tale with I Wanna Be Your Dog. AJ Hayes writes his prose with the mindset of a poet his Light My Fire is no exception to this. Redemption Song by Sean Patrick Reardon gives you a lot of detail for the minimal work count afforded. A tale well told. Ian Ayris blends violence and thoughts of literature in they way only he can in Down In The Tube Station At Midnight.

Nick Triplow's A New England brings us stark social commentary and a humane act. Charlie Wade brings us humour with a violent edge in the Smiths inspired Sheila Take Bow. Iain Rowan's Purple Haze an adeptly told tale of some lads out of their depth on the wrong side of town was believably told. Thomas Pluck brings us Free Bird and outlines that sometimes you just have to do something regardless of the consequences.

Matthew C. Funk brings obsession and S&M to the table with Venus In Furs. R. Thomas Brown at his intelligent and thoughtful best brings us revenge in Dock Of The Bay. Chris Rhatigan doesn’t waste a single word in the intense Shadowboxer. In Roll Me Away by Patti Abbott brings us sadness and irony.

I Wanna Be Sedated by Chad Rohrbacher a haunting tale in every sense of the word. Court Merrigan brings Back In Black (A Hiram Van Story). A dark tale with a darker conclusion. Paul D. Brazil does what he does best and entertains in that way only he can. Humour and dark deeds mixed deliciously in the blender of his imagination. Nick Boldock master of the clever ending brings us Superstition a tale of one man fortunes.

Bye, Bye, Baby is Vic Watson’s excellently told melancholic tale. Blood On The Dancefloor by Benoit Lelievre is a dark tale of competition and perhaps also jealousy. American Pie by Ron Earl Philips was reflective and ultimately heart warming. Detroit Rock City by Chris La Tray has an expansive emotional feel to it. Exceptionally well drawn characters. Super Trouper by Nigel Bird zooms in to the minutiae then expands effortlessly to the big picture. Classic Nigel Bird.

Pete Sortwell's So Low, So High seemed to almost perfectly encapsulate the title. I greatly enjoyed Julie Morrigan's Behind Blue Eyes a good old fashioned gangster tale. David Barber with Paranoid takes the straw that broke the camels back and uses it to violent effect.  McDroll brings us Nights In White Satin and a tale of quiet despair, the kind of tale she does so well.

Be My Baby  “Killing For Company is by Cath Bore. Excellent descriptive writing and with a well constructed unexpected conclusion. California Dreamin’ by Eric Beetner feels so realistic you can almost feel the sun beating down upon you. A classic revenge tale. A Day In The Life “How Many Holes” by Steve Weddle a cautionary tale: Don’t mess with folk you don’t know. My own Karma Police is a Sci-fi tale. Good taste prevents me from reviewing my own work.

Smells Like Teen Spirit by Simon Logan a  very stylish feel to it. One of my favourites. Luca Veste picks Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb for his selection. A gritty tale that also manages to encapsulate it’s title nicely. Nick Quantrill never disappoints and Death Or Glory is yet another strong well detailed tale from the Hull writer. Two Little Boys by Helen Fitzgerald gave me a good chuckle or two. A tale of an alternative therapy that is an accident waiting to happen. Ray Banks tells the tale of a worthless character who we feel no sympathy for. A tale with a most satisfying conclusion.

I could gush about this collection but then you’d get bored and I really only want to convey a simple message: Buy this book not only is it a great value uplifting read but it is for worthy causes. A fantastic mix of up and coming talent and some established names all of whom I am proud to feature along side. There really isn’t a bad story on it. Mr Veste should rename his blog which is called Guilty Conscience. His own conscience is clear he’s done sterling work here.

UK: Download Off The Record HERE
US: Download Off The Record HERE


  1. Wonderful review! It was a distinct honor to be among these amazing writers.

  2. I echo the sentiments above. As always, a terrific review, Daz, and thanks for the namecheck, mate.


  3. Thanks for the hat tip, Daz. That's a real fast crowd in there. Mostly though, imagine every kid in the world being able to read. Screw computers, that would be the world changing event in human history.