The Climber & Other Stories

On the crumbling ledge of a soaring cliff high above the breaking waves the climber faces a challenge from an implacable enemy – his own fear. Trapped by bonefreezing vertigo he is unable to move as a storm gathers out to sea. Brutal and savage, his path to survival depends on a primordial response and a bloody sacrifice.

The climber is one of a series of characters forced to engage with their own destinies and the imperatives of life in this collection of short works from Sydney writer, Patrick Howard. At times ironic, suspenseful, and humorous, these stories are like waking dreams, filled with the glimpses of half-remembered landscapes and people you might have known.

First published in book form in 2002 the 19 or so pieces remain timeless.


20. As it might begin
Ant woke suddenly and the gods laughed

19. A long way home
Michael was fortunate in finally having everything he had ever wished for.

18. Memory
For McCarthy forgetting was less of an option, more of an imperative.

17. Wormwood
As it turned out, Eddie Varve was not the only one prepared to kill.

16. Night Breezes
Sleeping out doors is the first step towards living with the stars.

15. Mantra of a Common Man
Joe Manchon was a worried man, but that was about to change.

14. The Best Laid Plans
He got around to celibacy, eventually.

13. Girls will be Girls
On the Nullarbor with fettlers and giant, carnivorous, alcoholic, lizards.

12. Woman of the Islands
Every life has its own telling and takes its time to follow through the years.

11. Ryan’s Run
Big rigs, hard work, love and revenge. Sometimes you can run out of luck.

10. A Cockleshell to Hy Brazil
When you reach the edge of the world there’s no place to go. Or is there?

9. Banzai Towing Company
The night before Christmas with the usual – Santa Claus, violence, and death.

8. Now you see me
What’s the chance of coming out alive when living with ghosts?

7. Heatwave
A car accident, a spaceship and new panels for the motor.

6. Windows
We’re all emigrants, when you look at it like that.

5. A Fairytale of Kings Cross
Every city is its own fairy tale and Sydney is no exception.

4. Million Dollar Smoke
No one is getting out of here alive, but there are winners and losers.

3. The Climber
The title track: sometimes a sacrifice is required.

2. Cold Feet
It can be murderous on the night time streets of inner-city Saddington. 

1. Timemaster
Time is a tough master, as Leach finds out. The first story.