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.

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.

Quarantine Comix: A Memoir of Life in Lockdown, by Rachael Smith (Icon Books, 2021)

A diary of mental health and struggling to cope during the initial phase of the coronavirus, told in comic strips. An interesting personal record of the first half of 2020, with a focus on the ways that the pandemic fed into individual anxieties. Might have benefited from dates by the entries: documents like these will have value in the years to come, and it’d be useful to have that context to these responses.

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

Dan O’Bannon’s Guide to Screenplay Structure, by Dan O’Bannon and Matt R Lohr (Michael Wiese Productions, 2012)

A guide to three act structure, and why it works for narrative cinema: including the Alien screenwriter’s own variant. Completed posthumously, this is an accessible, lightly erudite and fun guide to onscreen storytelling. One third structural analysis, one third application of O’Bannon’s version of the three act template to selected movies, one third industry observations.

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

Nobody Wants To Read Your Shit (And Other Tough-Love Truths To Make You A Better Writer), by Steven Pressfield (Black Irish Entertainment, 2016)

Another writing/creativity get-up-and-do-it how-to book from Pressfield, this time focused on lessons learned along the way as a novelist, screenwriter, as an advertising creative, and as a motivational writer. The most important lesson is in the book’s title: others focus on the twin imperatives of theme and story to any form of writing. Excellent as ever: the trick is to now go and do it, of course.

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

Based On A True Story (Not A Memoir), by Norm Macdonald (Random House, 2016)

Challenged to write a memoir, a stand-up comedian instead hires a ghostwriter. A meta spin on the celebrity autobiography, As with much of his career, the impression here is that Macdonald’s prime audience is himself: that’s a good thing, as this is funny, challenging in places, and wholly dishonest throughout. I loved it.

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

If I Only Had The Time: How To Keep Writing When The World Stops Moving, by Dave Cohen (TTTTTT Publications, 2021)

Reflections on creative writing: access, opportunities, and restrictions in 2021. An excellent short overview, with comedy writer Cohen bringing his decades of experience to the table. A focus throughout on the impacts of coronavirus and the internet, and on the need to both re-evaluate goals and directions while seeing new realities as chances. Recommended.

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

Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life, by Steve Martin (Pocket Books, 2008)

An autobiography of comedian Steve Martin, charting his early life and stand-up career. Excellent, clear-sighted, and well-written: whether you like Martin or not, there’s a lot here on creativity, persistence, and on being able to walk away, while also dealing with family relationships with honesty and perception. Recommended.

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

The Problem With Men: When Is It International Men’s Day? (And Why It Matters), by Richard Herring (Sphere, 2020)

Comedian Herring, via his annual Twitter efforts helping sexists with easily-searchable information, discusses toxic masculinity and related topics. A breezy introduction, focused on the seemingly eternal quest to publicise International Men’s Day. Accessible and fun, it’s a handy primer on futility and perseverance from the Brit stand-up Sisyphus.

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

Americana (and The Act of Getting Over it), by Luke Healy (Nobrow, 2019)

A journal of an attempt to complete the Pacific Crest Trail, a hiking route through from Mexico to Canada. And an excellent thing it is too, detailing Healy’s fascination with the US and the Trail, and the challenges faced and friendships made on the route. Plenty to appreciate, not least the blend of simple illustrations and occasional prose sections. Recommended.

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