Published Fiction
The Bush Baptist       Journal Review of The Bush Baptist

Mr Vitriol

The Fetish Collection - 14 short stories (new page)

Short Stories


The Bush Baptist  Print Edition ISBN: 9781782997078  Published 2013

The first two chapters can be downloaded for free as a pdf file.

The printed novel is available from Amazon UK


E-book sources  eISBN 9780992879617


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What makes a person vulnerable to a cult?

Holbach grew up in Auckland in the 1950s and 1960s. Belief in magic helped him to deal with the unhappiness of his early years until events left him feeling cursed. During adolescence, he places his faith in science and looks at religions the way others observe the behaviour of ants.

He is slow to fall in love and when this happens it ends badly. Misfortune
prompts him to flee to London. The outlooks of the squatters he lives with there challenge his middle-of-the-road beliefs.

Coincidences further unnerve Holbach. A fundamentalist sect tempts him and its attraction grows after he falls in love with the sister of its charismatic prophet. A battle rages in Holbach’s head between rationalism and the urge to make a leap of faith. And how he is to explain the sect’s euphoria-inducing blessings?

The novel deals with the inability to decide on beliefs, post-war New Zealand society, London’s 1970s counterculture and fetishes that range from a penchant for dental nurses to the obsession with beauty that Holbach shares with his mother.

Mr Vitriol   Published 2012

Printed Edition ISBN:

The first two chapters can be downloaded for free as a pdf file.


Printed version is available from

Mr Vitriol is also available as an e-book - eISBN 9780992879600

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Norman resented the media calling him Mr Vitriol because he saw his anonymous letters and as justified revenge.

In the new millennium, two men who never met write autobiographies that include experiences of severe bullying during National Service over forty years earlier. Norman Midlin almost drowned. NCOs raped Perry Gray. Perry responds to his violation and subsequent Army cover-up through vigilantism that includes poison-pen letters, planting bugs and evidence.

He writes his story in code shortly before committing suicide because exposure as Mr Vitriol is nigh. The media invented the name and whipped up public loathing for the anonymous correspondent.

Norman copes with his Army nightmares by working to the point of exhaustion. He becomes a cryptanalyst. Retirement resurrects his horrors. With the help of his wife he recovers until the police ask him to decrypt Perry’s pages.

Disturbed by Perry’s account and then by being widowed, Norman teeters between illusion, delusion and shrewd insights. He intersperses Perry’s chapters with his own story and comments on parallels and differences. Norman’s abhorrence of Mr Vitriol is tempered by Perry’s autobiography and the sense of his presence. The men develop a dialogue and a relationship that ranges from poignant to stormy.

Short Stories

Folie à Deux appears in Gem Street: The First Collection, Labello Press  ISBN 9780957231306 Gem Street is available from

Folie à Deux was placed first in the Leonard A. Koval Memorial Prize Short Story Competition. The tale concerns an Englishman whose fetish leads him to a pub that appears not to exist in the light of day.

The Suitcase, about an Afghan asylum seeker in England, appears in Flight: H.G. Wells Short Story Competition 2013, St Ursin Press. ISBN 9780957248533

Tony Not Toni features a New Zealand tomboy and appears in Deep South 2013, an electronic journal published by the English Department at the University of Otago. The story can be read on line via the above link or via a pdf version from Head in the Clouds. 4950 words.

Bifits appeared in The Pink Humanist in June 2012. The title stands for Big Imaginary Friend in the Sky and describes the curious religion practiced by a family. A pdf copy of Bifits (single column) is available from Head in the Clouds. 2555 words.

If Cats Wrote the Bible, printed in The Freethinker December 2012. It can be seen on line, but is easier to read on screen via a pdf version. 1981 words.

Beholden in Gem Street: Collector's Edition, August 2014. Gwinny  finds that having wealthy and generous friends is not as straightforward as she had hoped. 11,869 words. Available from Labello Press

To Mahia appears in Headland, a New Zealand journal that can be downloaded via Amazon US  or Amazon UK. The story is about a woman leaving her marriage and Wellington.

See also The Fetish Collection, an ebook with fourteen short stories by Paul Bur