Chewing The Fat, by Jay Rayner (Guardian Faber, 2021)

A collection of the journalist and restaurant critic‘s columns for the Observer Food Monthly supplement. And a very decent brisk read this too, with articles taking on topics from Christmas entertaining to what restaurants get wrong. Rayner is funny, good with a comparison, likes decent grub, and adopts the customer’s / home cook’s perspective throughout. Recommended.

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

How to Stunt in Hollywood, by Amy Johnston (Amazon Createspace, 2018)

A series of interviews with Hollywood stunt performers. A stunt performer themselves, Johnston offers both a thematic and a stunt person-by-stunt person pathway through these interviews. Useful in giving insights into stunt folks’ perspectives on career-building, on storytelling through action, on working collaboratively in Hollywood, and on wider motivational and healthy living advice. Niche, perhaps, but informative and accessible.

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

Billy Summers, by Stephen King (Hodder & Stoughton, 2021)

A professional assassin waiting for the go on a big-paying hit begins to write a novel. A superb entertainment: King’s patent mix of the implausible and the compelling – here very light indeed on the supernatural – riffs on recurring themes (the lot of the novelist, JFK, lower-middle class America) in fun and interesting ways. Plus, constant reader, this time he lands the ending. Recommended.

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

Factory Summers, by Guy Delisle [trans. Helge Dascher & Rob Aspinall] (Drawn & Quarterly, 2021)

A Canadian would-be illustrator spends three 1980s summers working in a paper mill. A charming autobiographical graphic novel that captures well the outsider’s perspective in working in a factory/industrial setting, on male relationships, and in chronicling a key life transition. Recommended.

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

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, by Quentin Tarantino (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2021)

Los Angeles, 1969. The lives of a TV actor and his stuntman buddy intersect with others, including members of the Manson family. A quasi-novelisation of Tarantino’s 2019 movie, taking a different path through the material. Lots of movie and TV arcana, some fun digressions, and a sense of confident ease throughout. Not sure how it’d stand up for those who haven’t seen the film, but it makes the prospect of an original novel an intriguing one.

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

Moon Lake, by Joe R Lansdale (Mulholland Books, 2021)

A young writer returns to his childhood hometown to reinvestigate his father’s suicide and his mother’s disappearance. A touch of Stephen King, East Texas-style, in this standalone novel which balances investigative thriller and the gothic with this writer’s concern for probing the underbelly of prejudice. Plenty to enjoy here: a solid, professional job all around from a modern master.

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

On Directing, by John Badham (Michael Wiese Productions, 2020)

The veteran film and television director on working in the industry. This second edition covers working with actors, directing action and suspense, TV and its differences to cinema, and preparation for shooting. An excellent personal perspective with practical value for any collaborative creative practitioner, drawing on a host of professional viewpoints and texts. Recommended.

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My own books are 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.