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.

Pundamentalist, by Gary Delaney (Headline, 2020)

A collection of one-and two-line gags, puns, and wordplay from the UK stand-up comedian. And that’s it: the book does exactly what it promises. There’s about 1000 well-crafted little jokes here, some obviously selected as they work better in print rather than delivered on stage. All tastes catered for, from the cheekily rude to the impressively inventive.

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.

Ghost Writer, by Rayco Pulido [trans. Andrea Rosenberg] (Fantagraphics, 2020)

Bodies accumulate as the ghost writer of a radio agony column draws on listeners’ letters in their serial killing. 1940s Barcelona-set deadpan absurdist noir that might be a touch impenetrable at first, but which comes with some useful appendices: based on a real-world radio show. Great-looking though, being rendered in lovely monochrome.

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

The Future of British Politics, by Frankie Boyle (Unbound, 2020)

This monograph – one of a new series – offers stand-up Boyle a little bit of a platform to let fly from. And it’s great stuff, too. Boyle 2.0 is a supremely effective satirist (or as much as one can be) and the craftsmanship of the gags on display here is terrific too. Lots of fun, plus I learned something about 1707.

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.

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.