Good Night, Hem, by Jason (Fantagraphics Books, 2021)

Three episodes in the life of Ernest Hemingway, each involving recurring Jason character Athos the Last Musketeer. Jason’s laconic, deceptively simple style is, as ever, beguiling. The reader’s given space to think, involving them completely in the narrative, in Hemingway’s life, and the effect of the stranger on him. Recommended.

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

The Hungry Years: Confessions of a Food Addict, by William Leith (Bloomsbury, 2006)

A shambolic writer investigates the diet industry while facing up to his own issues. Funny in places and well-written in confident journalese, this kinda autobiography is as 00s as it gets, dated in some respects (a reliance on James Frey), padded at times, but is good on self-loathing. The secret? Therapy: food and other substance issues are linked to unresolved psychological problems, per this account.

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

Strawberries To Pigs, by Michael Legge (Go Faster Stripe, 2021)

A collection of writings from the splenetic stand-up. And a pretty decent selection too. Mostly rejigged bits of bloggery, plus an extended short story (that feels a bit like padding in this context, to be fair). Plenty of fury, as fans might expect, and some strong writing to go along with that. A second volume would be something to look forward to.

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

The Ten (Food) Commandments, by Jay Rayner (Penguin Books, 2016)

The food journalist and restaurant critic offers ten simple rules for the good food life. A mix of personal philosophy, common sense, accessible nutritional science, and autobiography with a few decent recipes thrown in to illustrate the points being made. All good stuff, and the pork, butter bean and chorizo stew offered is a belter.

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

My Last Supper: One Meal, a Lifetime in the Making, by Jay Rayner (Guardian Faber, 2020)

The restaurant critic and journalist ponders mortality through food. A kind of autobiography, structured around assembling a final meal, and with it a playlist. The Desert Island Discs-ish structure works well, making for an episodic but enjoyable set of culinary investigations, observations, and reminiscences.

My own books 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.

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.

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.