Odds and Ends

These are books which do not fit happily into other slots.

(click on a cover to reach the Amazon page)

Tales of Old Japanese

Tales-of-Old-Japanese-GenericThe first of these, Tales of Old Japanese, was the first book accepted for publication (in a different cover). It is the most “literary” of all my books, and people still like it (a recent review here).

Tales of Old Japanese is a collection of five short stories of the older generation living in contemporary Japan. The author spent over 25 years living in the country, working as a writer and journalist. Some of his impressions of Japan and of the people who live there have been recorded in:

  • Keiko’s House: An old house, its history, and the history of those who have lived there in the past.
  • Haircuts: When 92-year-old Mr Kato changes his barber, his life takes on a surprising new meaning.
  • Click: One photograph every day. The memories of twenty years, all neatly arranged in albums. Mrs Terada’s camera sees everything.
  • Mrs Sakamoto’s Grouse: When Mrs Sakamoto sees a new brand of whisky on the shelves of her local neighbourhood shop, the result is unexpected.
  • The Old House: Two boys play in the garden of a deserted house once owned by a notorious miser; which turns out not to be deserted after all.

This little gem of a book was written by an expatriate Brit who has resided in Japan for several years, and whose love for that nation’s culture, traditions, and people shines through in five short stories about Japanese senior citizens. Ashton’s writing is spare and concise, analogous in style to Japanese calligraphy, haiku poetry, or ikebana — and it is precisely this elegant simplicity which gives his work such profound emotional power and quiet beauty. You may read TALES OF OLD JAPANESE cover to cover in a single sitting, but the poignancy of the tales will remain with you long after you have finished the book.

The Persian Dagger

The-Persian-Dagger-GenericWritten with my former editor and publisher, M.Lowe, now sadly no longer with us. An attempt to copy the style of the original Father Brown stories by G.K.Chesterton. I leave it to you to decide whether or not I succeeded.

The resurrection of another classic famous sleuth – G.K.Chesterton’s Father Brown. Here, Ashton and Lowe unveil a shocking crime where the little priest sees into men’s hearts and thereby reveals the murderer. Spiced with the wit and morality that lifted the original Father Brown stories above the average, this has been described as:

Fantastic little read. Written very much in the style and subject matter that Chesterton would pen. I’ve read all of the Father Brown material and own the 2 volume annotated Father Brown, I wouldn’t consider myself an expert, however, Ashton and Lowe, as near as I can tell, have fashioned a tale that is very true to the original stories by GKC. The dialogue, setting, characters, and moral of the story is just what one would expect if Chesterton had written it. GKC was a tremendously prolific writer, who was a formidable apologist for Christianity. The Persian Dagger could easily be slipped into a volume of Father Brown stories and you wouldn’t be able to discern the difference. Ashton and Lowe have done a tremendous job.

First Contact

First-Contact-GenericA very short story, written before breakfast, but no worse for that. Not to be taken seriously – it’s free, anyway.

Aliens are coming to this world. But why? And what is their ultimate aim? Will our first contact with an alien civilisation be like this? Please note that this is fiction and not a discussion of UFOs, etc.

(FREE!) (FREE!)

This story is short, so short in fact that you’re probably going to take as long to read it as it took to find it and download it. Adds a nice little tweak to the usual “first contact” scenarios, but it would be even better if it was expanded out to a full novel dealing with what happened next.