Things That Never Happen

Things That Never Happen

by M. John Harrison
     
 

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John Harrison is one of the most critically acclaimed writers in England. Over the last 30 years Harrison has been inspiring readers and writers alike on both sides of the Atlantic. Despite this, Harrison's fiction is almost entirely unavailable in the United States. This book collects 24 of Harrison's best pieces of short fiction, including several which have never…  See more details below

Overview

John Harrison is one of the most critically acclaimed writers in England. Over the last 30 years Harrison has been inspiring readers and writers alike on both sides of the Atlantic. Despite this, Harrison's fiction is almost entirely unavailable in the United States. This book collects 24 of Harrison's best pieces of short fiction, including several which have never before seen publication in the United States. Things That Never Happen features an introduction and extensive story notes by the author, as well as an introduction by China Mieville (Perdido Street Station).

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
M. John Harrison uses the conceits of science fiction, fantasy and horror fiction to expose the follies and sorrows of the human condition. For those unfamiliar with his work, a cleverly titled collection of short stories, Things that Never Happen, provides a fine introduction. Arranged chronologically by date of composition, these stories reveal the maturation of a writer who had to learn not to let his stylistic facility get in the way of his artistic aspirations. — Gerald Jones
The Washington Post
Harrison's carefully wrought, exacting stories (most are between 12 and 24 pages long, substantial yet compact) are stylistically restrained — no lush metaphors or syntactical virtuosity — but emotionally charged. Some, like "The Ice Monkey" or "Isobel Avens Returns to Stepney in the Spring," seem to contain as much emotional extremity as they could possibly bear. Standing on a bridge over the Danube at midnight with his girlfriend, a narrator observes: "Ice floes like huge lily pads raced towards us in the dark. You could hear them turning and dipping under one another, piling up briefly round the huge piers, jostling across the whole vast breadth of the river as they rushed south." A reader adept in classroom critiques might declare that these half-glimpsed floes are a metaphor for the happy protagonists' uncomprehended and treacherous emotions, which will end up similarly smashed to bits. — Gregory Feeley
Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
"In some places, we're all ghosts," Harrison writes in "The Incalling," one of 24 superlative stories in this British author's first U.S. collection. From the "warren of defeated streets" between Camden Rd. and St. Pancras in London to the "glacial moraines of Stake pass, where dragonflies clatter mournfully through the brittle reed-stems," Harrison writes ghost stories without any ghosts in them. His characters typically live in the margins, or have conspired to live there through the vagaries of fate or experience. They quiver on the edge of discovering a great truth, uncovering a vast secret about the universe, or living a life previously unknown to them. Such characters are often enraptured by a vision or obsession invisible to the rest of us. The painter's precision with which Harrison works and the aversion to clich and generic detail make his prose style hyper-real even in his most fantastical tales. "The Egnaro," "The Great God Pan," "Isobel Avens Returns to Stepney in the Spring" and "The Neon Heart Murders" are particularly brilliant and compare favorably with the work of any fiction writer in the world, whether genre or mainstream. Wise, unflinching, precise, these stories immerse us in a world we thought we knew but that stands revealed by turns as richer, starker and more complex. (Jan. 7) Forecast: The publisher hopes to reach both genre and mainstream readers (the Picasso art on the dignified dust jacket will cue the latter), but it will take some high-profile reviews for Harrison to break out. China Mi ville's introduction and Harrison's connection to the British 1960s New Wave will at least help ensure serious attention from readers of literary fantasy. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781892389268
Publisher:
Night Shade Books
Publication date:
01/28/2003
Pages:
449
Product dimensions:
5.72(w) x 8.96(h) x 1.41(d)

What People are saying about this

China Mieville
That M. John Harrison is not a Nobel Laureate proves the bankruptcy of the literary establishment. Austere, unflinching and desperately moving, he is one of the very great writers alive today. And yes, he writes fantasy and sf, though of a form, scale and brilliance that it shames not only the rest of the field, but most modern fiction.

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