Eddie Izzard on his new memoir, comedy, and running for Parliament…

Yesterday, Stephen Colbert hosted Eddie Izzard on The Late Show. Izzard is my favourite comedian. I first discovered his work in my first year at university, and he never fails to delight and inspire. His comedy is fantastic (I’ve seen him live twice), and it really holds up — I listen to the audio versions of his various tours frequently.

IzzardE-BelieveMeUSIzzard’s new memoir, Believe Me is out now, published by Blue Rider Press in North America, and Penguin in the UK. (I have both the print and audiobook versions, so expect a review very soon.) Here is the official publisher synopsis:

A memoir of love, death and jazz chickens…

“I know why I’m doing all this,” I said. “Everything I do in life is trying to get her back. I think if I do enough things… that maybe she’ll come back.”

When Eddie Izzard was six, he and his brother Mark lost their mother. That day, he lost his childhood too. Despite or perhaps because of this, he has always felt he needed to take on things that some people would consider impossible.

In Believe Me, Eddie takes us on a journey which begins in Yemen (before the revolution), then takes us to Northern Ireland (before The Troubles), England and Wales, then across the seas to Europe and America. In a story jam-packed with incident he tells of teddy bear shows on boarding school beds, renouncing accountancy for swordfighting on the streets of London and making those first tentative steps towards becoming an Action Transvestite, touring France in French and playing the Hollywood Bowl.

Above all, this is a tale about someone who has always done everything his own way (which often didn’t work at first) and, sometimes almost by accident but always with grit and determination, achieving what he set out to do.

If you’ve never seen or heard Izzard’s comedy, I strongly recommend Definite Article, Glorious, Dressed to Kill and Circle.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Last Week’s Late DAILY SHOW Reunion…

Last week on the Late Show, Stephen Colbert hosted a reunion of The Daily Show correspondents and Jon Stewart. Here are some clips:

A great segment. If you like them, then I’d highly recommend The Daily Show: The Book, a fantastic oral history of the show (and one of my favourite books of last year).

Here’s the book’s synopsis:

The complete, uncensored history of the award-winning The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, as told by its correspondents, writers, and host.

For almost seventeen years, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart brilliantly redefined the borders between television comedy, political satire, and opinionated news coverage. It launched the careers of some of today’s most significant comedians, highlighted the hypocrisies of the powerful, and garnered 23 Emmys. Now the show’s behind-the-scenes gags, controversies, and camaraderie will be chronicled by the players themselves, from legendary host Jon Stewart to the star cast members and writers-including Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Steve Carell, Lewis Black, Jessica Williams, John Hodgman, and Larry Wilmore-plus some of The Daily Show’s most prominent guests and adversaries: John and Cindy McCain, Glenn Beck, Tucker Carlson, and many more.

This oral history takes the reader behind the curtain for all the show’s highlights, from its origins as Comedy Central’s underdog late-night program hosted by Craig Kilborn to Jon Stewart’s long reign to Trevor Noah’s succession, rising from a scrappy jester in the 24-hour political news cycle to become part of the beating heart of politics-a trusted source for not only comedy but also commentary, with a reputation for calling bullshit and an ability to effect real change in the world.

Through years of incisive election coverage, Jon Stewart’s emotional monologue in the wake of 9/11, his infamous confrontation on Crossfire, passionate debates with President Obama and Hillary Clinton, feuds with Bill O’Reilly and Fox, the Indecisions, Mess O’Potamia, and provocative takes on Wall Street and racism, The Daily Show has been a cultural touchstone. Now, for the first time, the people behind the show’s seminal moments come together to share their memories of the last-minute rewrites, improvisations, pranks, romances, blow-ups, and moments of Zen both on and off the set of one of America’s most groundbreaking shows.

There are more clips up on the Late Show’s YouTube page.

WONDER WOMAN opens in one month(ish)! (Whither the marketing blitz?)

WonderWoman-PosterSDCC2016

As has been pointed out by quite a few commentators and fans — most recently SyFy Wire and The Mary Sue — there has been relatively very little publicity push for the upcoming WONDER WOMAN movie. Actually, a pathetic amount of marketing. Given the veritable avalanche of teasers, posters, online, television and print advertising we were subjected to in the run up to Batman vs. SupermanSuicide Squad, all of the new Star Wars movies and even less-blockbuster-offerings, the paucity of Wonder Woman advertising is puzzling. Continue reading

DC Comics Takes Aim at Chinese Market…?

NewSuperMan-Art-01&02

I haven’t been reading much coverage of DC Comics’ upcoming “Rebirth”, but I just stumbled across this title: New Super-Man. From the synopsis, it would appear that DC are aiming to crack the (no-doubt) growing Chinese comics market. Or just to capitalize on the growing awareness of China in contemporary society/politics/economics. The first story-arc, “Made in China” takes the DC universe in a potentially interesting direction — a new, “Justice League of China”…

“Made in China” Chapter One.

An impulsive act of heroism thrusts an arrogant young man into the limelight of Shanghai as China begins to form its own Justice League of powerful heroes. Rising from the ashes of The Final Days of Superman, award-winning writer Gene Luen Yang and on-the-rise art star Victor Bogdanovic introduce readers to Kong Kenan — the New Super-Man! When the world needed a new hero, China made him!

As someone who has studied China and Chinese history and politics for over a decade, this could be a really interesting title. Also, the fact that China made their own Super-Man is amusing — given the long history of Chinese manufacturers’ tendency to replicate Western creations (just as each new rising power has done, throughout history), this seems entirely apt.

New Super-Man #1 is due to be published on July 13th, #2 on August 10th. Here’s the synopsis for the second issue:

“Made in China” Chapter Two.

The New Super-Man must face off against the Justice League of China? When Kenan Kong was imbued with the powers of Superman, he didn’t waste any time using them! Now it’s up to the New Bat-Man and New Wonder-Woman of his home country to bring our hero back down to earth-just in time to stop the attack of the deadly Sunbeam!

Civilian Reader is 10yrs Old… A Look Back at the First Review

Happy10thBirthdayTen years ago today, I posted my first fiction review on Civilian Reader. It’s very weird to think I’ve been writing reviews, etc., for a decade. It was not my first ever book review, though: the first novel I reviewed was Richard Morgan’s excellent Market Forces, for my university newspaper. A review that was, sadly, completely butchered by the editor. Maybe that’s one reason I decided to start my own book review website…

I’ve thought about shutting the website down a number of times over the years — sometimes more seriously than others. And yet, I keep getting drawn back into writing for it. It’s taken up a lot of my free time. I’m of two minds about whether or not this has been a good or bad thing.

And so, to mark the ten-year anniversary, here’s the first review I posted to CR…

*

THE BLACK SUN by James Twining (Harper Collins)

TwiningJ-2-BlackSunUKSequel to The Double EagleThe Black Sun is a fine sophomore novel from a truly talented British author.

In London, an Auschwitz survivor is murdered in his hospital bed, his killers making off with a macabre trophy – his severed left arm.

In Fort Mead, Maryland, a vicious gang breaks into the NSA museum and steals a World War II Enigma machine, lynching the guard who happens to cross their path.

Meanwhile, in Prague, a frenzied and mindless anti-Semitic attack on a synagogue culminates in the theft of a seemingly worthless painting by a little known Czech artist called Karel Bellak.

A year has passed since Tom Kirk, the world’s greatest art thief, decided to put his criminal past behind him and embark on a new career, on the right side of the law . Then three major thefts occur, and suddenly Tom is confronted with a deadly mystery and a sinister face from the past.

James Twining has managed to write a twisting tale of historical intrigue and action, while not falling foul to the cliches and pot-holes that affect Dan Brown. There’s no dubious religious connotations or huge leaps into left field to help his arguments and premises. True, he’s clearly made some of the background up, but then that’s why this book is found in the “Fiction” section of Waterstone’s… Continue reading

Post-Trip Book Plug: ROB BOFFARD and DAVID TOWSEY

Last week, Alyssa and I went on a short trip to Vancouver. It was excellent (read that in Wayne Campbell’s voice for proper effect), and I think we’re going to do our best to make it an annual thing. Anyway, that’s all beside the point. On Friday, we had the pleasure of meeting up with authors Rob Boffard and David Towsey, two author’s I’ve “known” via the Twitters for what feels like ages. There was talk of books, there was beer, there was clam juice, and there was much merriment.

I thought, therefore, I would just let everyone know (again) about their books, which I think everyone should try…

Rob Boffard’s TRACER, ZERO-G and IMPACT (Orbit)

BoffardR-TracerSeries

A huge space station orbits the Earth, holding the last of humanity. It’s broken, rusted, falling apart. We’ve wrecked our planet, and now we have to live with the consequences: a new home that’s dirty, overcrowded and inescapable.

What’s more, there’s a madman hiding on the station. He’s about to unleash chaos. And when he does, there’ll be nowhere left to run.

Tracer and Zero-G are out now — in both eBook and print in the UK, and eBook in the US (print arriving in June and July). Impact is due to be published in August.

Also on CR: Interview with Rob Boffard; Guest Post on “What to do if You’re Set Adrift in Space?”; Review of Tracer

Links: Author Website, Twitter, Goodreads

David Towsey’s YOUR BROTHER’S BLOOD, YOUR SERVANTS AND YOUR PEOPLE and YOUR RESTING PLACE (Jo Fletcher Books)

TowseyD-WalkinSeries

No one knows who will become a Walkin’ — one of the living dead — when they die, but everyone knows it’s a curse

The earth is a wasteland, with no technology, science, or medicine — but the dead don’t always die. Those who rise again are the Walkin’…

Thomas is thirty-two. He comes from the small town of Barkley. He has a wife there, Sarah, and a child, Mary; good solid names from the Good Book. And he is on his way home from the war, where he has been serving as a conscripted soldier.

Thomas is also dead — he is one of the Walkin’.

And Barkley does not suffer the wicked to live.

All three novels in the Walkin’ series are out now.

Also on CR: Interview with David Towsey; Excerpt from Your Brother’s Blood; Guest Post on “When Reading Habits Become Writing Habits”

Links: Author Website, Twitter, Goodreads