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.
A first collection of restaurant reviews, focusing on terrible experiences. A fun brisk read, showcasing the ways in which restaurants can mess up spectacularly. Some asides on journalism, and on what happened next with the culprits add additional context.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.