S.E rating: 4 of 5 stars
Chip Shop Horrors – a dose of entertaining, murderous gluttony. Like carry-out food, Chip Shop is quick, tasty, and unhealthy (antagonists and protagonists would agree if they remained in condition to provide feedback). The food fare matches the menu; you are promised horror related to eating and the food industry, and you’ll get it ready-to-go, rolled up in bloody wax paper.
For the US readers, let’s define a Chip Shop (aka Chippy): that’s UK lingo for a carry-out dinner (food truck perhaps) that sells fried fish, potatoes, and other foods. Jan Steward’s Foreword’s is bite-size and worth excerpting here to convey the scope:
“We have a strange relationship with food. There are carnivores, herbivores, omnivores, vegans, fruitarians and people who don’t eat carbs, not to mention those who only eat raw food or avoid dairy, sugar or fat completely. Of course, there are those who can’t afford to eat, can’t find food even if they could afford it or are forced to go without so others can survive. Did I just compare first world life style choices with starvation and the results of famine in other parts of the world? Maybe–but then I did say we have a strange relationship with food.
In many countries now we pay other people to do our cooking for us, with the emphasis on speed and variety, ease and value for money. Except behind that façade there are whole industries of unease, of turkeys kicked like footballs, of people working hand to mouth, of distaste and disgust. Occasionally that discomfort rises to the surface, the drive for profit and effortless combining to produce horrors we work hard to turn our eyes from. In this anthology we explore some of that unease, whether it’s food coming from other worlds or even galaxies, servings of people, sauces to die for or customers who we’d probably not want to think to hard about, these stories will uncover your disgust and your discomfort. But beware, some of these characters are artists, others are demented, yet all are at the heart of what we call fast food.
I hope you never look at a chip shop the same way again." (Jan Steward 2015)
Chip Shop Horrors - Menu
1. Whatsa Mata? by Ian Whates
2. Oi, Oi! Saveloy! by Matthew Sylvester
3. Maria Laxara by Chris Amies
4. The best tasting fish and chips in the county by Greg Smith
5. Discomfort food by Phil Sloman
6. Family secrets by E J Davies
7. Dinner and discontent by Paul Gleed
8. Shut In by David Thomas Moore
9. Salt insult by Shane Porteous
10. Fit for work by Stewart Hotston
The first three have sci-fi/otherworldy elements, with a tribute to the infamous “George Forman grill”, hungry aliens, and otherworldy Maria Laxara (phantom island). Three of the remaining seven plumb the lure of eating the homeless or abject; expect lots of meat pies served from street vendors, with queues (lines) of the hungry, poor, or evil salivating over secret recipes. The food industry has plenty of down-and-out employees and employers, and this collection explores all angles. Porteous kindly breaks the dreary trend with a humorous conflict, and the last adventure is criminal. My favorites were Solman’s Discomfort food and Thomas Moore’s Shut In, since they featured insane characters with splendid, weird styles: these both brought their food to life, so hamburgers and pizza took on character-status in their own right.
Chip Shop Horror is a solid collection recommended for horror fans…or those suspicious of fast-food
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