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Paul Haines

Brimstone Press (2011)

ISBN: 978-0-9805677-1-7

Reviewed by Guy Salvidge

Paul Haines’ third collection of stories, The Last Days of Kali Yuga, was recently launched at Swancon Thirty Six in Perth. I had the pleasure of attending the launch and hearing Haines read from his story “The Past is a Bridge Best Left Burned”. Having recently read the author’s earlier collection, Slice of Life, I was eager to get my hands on this latest collection from Perth-based Brimstome Press, and it didn’t disappoint. The Last Days of Kali Yuga firmly establishes Haines as one of Australia’s best horror writers (yes, I know he’s from New Zealand originally).

Haines warned me when he signed my copy of this book that the material was dark and perhaps disturbing in nature. I guess it says as much about me as it does of him, but I didn’t find anything particularly objectionable in these pages, although it’s true that some stories were very provocative. The writer Haines reminds me of most is M. John Harrison, whose work is similarly sardonic and sometimes vicious. A number of recurrent themes run through many of Haines’ stories, including but not limited to: the pressures and angst of urban living; sexual frustration and jealousy; and the cycle of seemingly inevitable violence. The author pulls few, if any, punches in his depiction of the more sordid side of life, and he keeps us close to the edge as readers. William S. Burroughs once said that ‘writing should have the immediacy and danger of bullfighting’; Paul Haines is certainly a writer whose work fits that bill.

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