Digging up Mother: A Love Story [AKA The Long Version of a Suicide Post-It Note: A Love Story], by Doug Stanhope (Da Capo Press, 2016)

The stand-up comic’s autobiography, focusing on his relationship with – and the death of – his mother. A million miles from the “dead dad” comedy trope of a few years back, this is a scabrous, honest, and funny account of Stanhope’s life, loves and borderline criminal experiences to date, and of the influence of his mum on his worldview. Recommended.

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

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist, by Adrian Tomine (Faber and Faber, 2020)

A socially-awkward cartoonist reflects on embarrassing incidents in their life. Lovely, touching and beautifully-presented kinda-memoir, that’ll ring true to anyone who’s tried to be creative and/or who’s struggled with being in public. Lots to appreciate, and wholly relatable even (or especially) if comix aren’t usually your thing.

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

Presto!: How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales, by Penn Gillette (Simon & Schuster, 2016)

A stage magician’s account of his weight loss, and the unorthodox methods used to achieve this. A forceful, loquacious, funny and quite possibly at times too-salty-for-some diet memoir. Interesting and a fun read into the bargain, even if the approach used might not translate. As the author notes, though, this is a case study, not a recipe to follow.

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

I Killed Adolf Hitler, by Jason (Fantagraphics Books, 2006)

A hitman is hired to travel back to 1938 via time machine to kill Hitler. Deadpan SF black comedy in the author/illustrator’s signature style, which deftly explores the potential for complications in the premise. There’s depth in the approach; appreciating the deceptiveness of the apparent simplicity of Jason’s work is part of the pleasure.

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

 

Thunderbook: The World of Bond According to SmershPod, by John Rain (Polaris, 2019)

An overview of the Eon James Bond films to date. And not a very good one, either. Unlike the genial podcast which this book spins off from, this film-by-film precis doesn’t add much more than scattershot snark and the same overworked observations. A few useful bits of trivia emerge, but this is a disappointing, laboured, and repetitive effort.

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

The Trick, by William Leith (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020)

The journalist explores the secret to making money, through reflecting on his parlous financial life and on his wealthy interview subjects. Typically self-absorbed and confident, Leith’s third book is a zippy treat, even if you might not want to spend time with anyone featured in it. The trick itself is revealed on p.198.

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

Of Mice and Minestrone: Hap and Leonard – the Early Years, by Joe R Lansdale (Tachyon Publications, 2020)

Five stories featuring the young Hap Collins and Leonard Pine. Perhaps for completists and series fans only, but this is still great stuff. Tall tales of East Texas rambunctiousness and formative experiences, delivered in Lansdale’s effortless economic style. The book even features a few recipes from the yarns, contributed (in character) by Lansdale’s daughter Kasey. Recommended.

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

 

Vacationland, by John Hodgman (Viking/Penguin Random House, 2017)

Ruminations on, among other things, owning two holiday homes. Similar in its approach to that of its follow-up Medallion Status, Hodgman discusses the advantages and the minor pitfalls of almost being a celebrity, rural v city life, and the odd responsibilities of homeownership. Deft, pleasant, amusing, melancholic as ever.

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

Medallion Status, by John Hodgman (Viking/Penguin Random House, 2019)

Reflections on perceived dwindling fame and airline loyalty schemes. We don’t really have humourists in the UK; maybe we should. Anyway, this is a funny, melancholy and perceptive look at Hollywood and other places thanks to Hodgman’s temporary access to the outer parts of the inner sanctum.

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