Factory Summers, by Guy Delisle [trans. Helge Dascher & Rob Aspinall] (Drawn & Quarterly, 2021)

A Canadian would-be illustrator spends three 1980s summers working in a paper mill. A charming autobiographical graphic novel that captures well the outsider’s perspective in working in a factory/industrial setting, on male relationships, and in chronicling a key life transition. Recommended.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, by Quentin Tarantino (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2021)

Los Angeles, 1969. The lives of a TV actor and his stuntman buddy intersect with others, including members of the Manson family. A quasi-novelisation of Tarantino’s 2019 movie, taking a different path through the material. Lots of movie and TV arcana, some fun digressions, and a sense of confident ease throughout. Not sure how it’d stand up for those who haven’t seen the film, but it makes the prospect of an original novel an intriguing one.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Moon Lake, by Joe R Lansdale (Mulholland Books, 2021)

A young writer returns to his childhood hometown to reinvestigate his father’s suicide and his mother’s disappearance. A touch of Stephen King, East Texas-style, in this standalone novel which balances investigative thriller and the gothic with this writer’s concern for probing the underbelly of prejudice. Plenty to enjoy here: a solid, professional job all around from a modern master.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

On Directing, by John Badham (Michael Wiese Productions, 2020)

The veteran film and television director on working in the industry. This second edition covers working with actors, directing action and suspense, TV and its differences to cinema, and preparation for shooting. An excellent personal perspective with practical value for any collaborative creative practitioner, drawing on a host of professional viewpoints and texts. Recommended.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

In, by Will McPhail (Sceptre, 2021)

An illustrator struggles with communicating in the big city: then he meets someone. Wry and melancholic in places, particularly at its outset, this is nevertheless ultimately a good-looking but manipulative and slight graphic novel, its narrative coming across as forced and mechanistic. Not for me, really, then, though it may well speak to others.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, by Patton Oswalt (Scribner, 2011)

An episodic and non-linear autobiography, with other writings. Inevitably patchy (the non-autobiographical material is weaker, though it’s fun to re-read the Neill Cumpston movie reviews again) but nevertheless engaging stories from childhood, adolescence, and of various bad times on the comedy circuit. For fans only, maybe, but that’s a broad outsider church.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Falling, by TJ Newman (Simon & Schuster, 2021).

His family taken hostage, an airline pilot is commanded to crash his plane. Commendably brisk and straightforward old-school aviation thriller full of plausible cabin detail and with most tropes of the aircraft jeopardy subgenre cheerfully put to work. Tailor-made for a movie adaptation: make sure you read it before the film comes out.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Sliver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life From An Addiction to Film, by Patton Oswalt (Scribner, 2015)

An autobiography, focusing on the 90s, on becoming established as a stand-up, and on an obsession with revival theatres. Perhaps not quite as much about old movies and moviegoing as the title suggests, this is nevertheless an entertaining and lucid book, giving some insight into borderline-obsessive behaviours of all kinds. Plus, it’s a love letter to LA’s New Beverly cinema.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Your Simple Guide to Reversing Type 2 Diabetes, by Professor Roy Taylor (Short Books, 2021)

As promised, a pacy and straightforward overview of the relationship between excess pancreatic fat and type 2 diabetes, and how a direct no-nonsense approach to dieting can address this health issue. Perhaps easier said than done, but the book makes a clear case for action, outlines what’s needed to be achieved and why, and tells you how to do it. That’s pretty good going. Recommended.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.