Showcase #2: "Summertime Blues" by Phil Jones

Let me introduce you to Phil Jones. I wouldn't be so bold as to call him my friend – what I know of him makes me guess that he treasures friendship as much as I do and that the word “friend” still has a profound meaning that goes further than the one implied by Zuckerberg and Co. But let me call him a very friendly presence (which sounds way better than “a www-acquaintance”) in my writing life. I “met” him on the Literature Network Forums or LitNet, where we LitNetters (some would say “LitNutters”) know him better by his nick “hillwalker”. 

Only recently have I discovered that Phil has published a collection of short stories (for Kindle) on amazon: “Summertime Blues - TheCollection”. I immediately connected and purchased a copy. And didn't regret it for a moment.

The book:
It starts with the title story “Summertime Blues”, set in the sixties somewhere in the British countryside. It's summer, and 15-year-old Billy stays together with his younger sister at his granny's. One day, he stumbles upon Suzie, a glamorous, fickle young woman with a story, who seems to spend her days lounging in her front garden, drinking Vodka and mourning her wild past. As their friendship takes its course, Billy begins to fall in love with her. But every holiday has an end, and soon the boy has to leave. The next time he comes back to his granny's, he discovers things are not always what they seem… Let me tell you at once: I really enjoyed this story very much. There's a passage where Suzie and Billy get to “know” each other better (I won't give away more - you have to read it!) which is a pure gem, very intense and translating accurately how a teenage boy might got through such a scene. Of course, I didn't like the ending as often happens with good stories. Romantic me always hopes that everything'll turn out fine; even when reading Stefan Zweig's “Marie Antoinette” – and we all know how she ended up! –, I prayed the queen would survive. So I was gagging for Billy and Suzie to marry and be happy ever after, yet they… but hush! I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise!

The second story, “The Brocken Spectre”, relating Great War veteran Edwin's hiking accident in the Highlands, is somewhat more foreseeable as to how it'll end yet not an ounce less enjoyable. Great descriptions and dialogues make for a very good story. Phil knows how to apply "show not tell".

Now, the third story “Harry's Last Case” is my second-favourite after the title story. It made me giggle a lot. The tale of Private Investigator Harry Carson's improbable case entrusted by the randy widow Dolores Boyd (my, is she a character!) turns out a perfect example of Phil's wry humour and of his skills when it comes to writing funny dialogue. 

There are ten other stories to discover plus four pieces of flash fiction. Not only is this a wonderful read for your own Christmas holidays but a wonderful gift for your friends, too. Available on amazon.com (and all the other amazon outlets of course) for only $3.48 (including VAT).

About the author:
Ex-teacher and contracts manager, Phil Jones, was brought up in a tiny Welsh-speaking community. His guidebook to Snowdonia '80 Hills' was published in 2010. Since then he escaped to the North Western corner of Scotland where he divides his time between writing and wandering the hills. His novel 'DreamGirl' recently won the Red Telephone Young Adult novel of 2011 and is due for publication summer 2013.