Born For Trouble: The Further Adventures of Hap and Leonard, by Joe R Lansdale (Tachyon Publications, 2022)

Five novellas featuring Lansdale‘s series protagonists: murder and mayhem in East Texas. Bringing together the previously separately-published Coco Butternut, Hoodoo Harry, Sad Onions, The Briar Patch Boogie, and Cold Cotton, this collection finds Hap and Leonard facing middle age but still with plenty of fight in them. Recommended.

A longer review is here.

Note: advance copy provided by the publisher.

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

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.

Doctor Who: The Crimson Horror, by Mark Gatiss (Target Books, 2021)

People are going missing in 1893 Bradford: Madam Vastra and Jenny Flint investigate. A zesty novelisation of Gatiss’s own 2013 Doctor Who episode (with another story recounting Jenny’s first meeting with the eleventh Doctor). Every opportunity for Victorian pastiche, name-checking and in-jokes – both historical and Whovian – has full advantage taken. Plenty of brisk fun, basically.

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

Based On A True Story (Not A Memoir), by Norm Macdonald (Random House, 2016)

Challenged to write a memoir, a stand-up comedian instead hires a ghostwriter. A meta spin on the celebrity autobiography. As with much of his career, the impression here is that Macdonald’s prime audience is himself: that’s a good thing, as this is funny, challenging in places, and wholly dishonest throughout. I loved it.

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.

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.

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