H Anthony Hildebrand

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Books of 2016

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I read some good books in 2016, and will hopefully have time to get through a few more before the year is out. These are the ones I have enjoyed the most, both those new in 2016 and from earlier, presented in no particular order.

Books published in 2016

Gone With The Mind – Mark Leyner

Leyner is my favourite writer, the most entertaining writer, sentence to sentence, I’ve ever read, so perhaps unsurprising that I loved this: a Leyner-esque take on the memoir that is endlessly digressive and funny and great.

The Throwback Special – Chris Bachelder

I properly discovered and fell for Chris Bachelder’s writing this year, after having read his first novel, Bear Vs Shark, a few years back. The Throwback Special is about 22 men gathering annually to re-enact a spectacularly brief and violent NFL play, and it’s funny and wise and moving and ace.

You Will Know Me – Megan Abbott

Suburban murder and sex and intrigue in the world of junior gymnastics. Obsession and family sacrifice as Abbott continues an amazing sequence of noir-for-you-at-home books.

Mr Eternity – Aaron Their

Dan Defoe is or isn’t actually Daniel Defoe and lives for hundreds of years and is described in numerous different eras and locales and contexts. Excellent: wildly imaginative, entertaining as heck, and ultimately uplifting.

Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacy – Simon Reynolds

Simon Reynolds of Rip It Up and Start Again fame turns his attention to glam rock and the results are engrossing, illuminating and make you want to listen to the music he describes, even if it’s not all to your taste. Which is pretty much what I’m after with music writing.

Multiple Choice – Alejandro Zambra

A Chilean novella or something in the form of a multiple choice test. Short enough to keep the gimmick fresh, well-written enough to make it totally immersive.

Moonglow – Michael Chabon

A fictionalised biography of a fake grandfather, this is a wildly entertaining rebuke to the privileged status of the ‘authentic’ memoir.

Days Without End – Sebastian Barry

Narrated in the voice of a young Irish dude who flees to America at the time of the famine, falls in love with his best friend and fights in the Indian and Civil wars. At times truly gruesome, but also properly moving.

Books not published in 2016

Norwood and The Dog of The South – Charles Portis

Portis wrote True Grit, which I haven’t actually read, but these are amazing deadpan roadtrip books with some of the best dialogue I’ve ever read.

U.S! and Abbott Awaits – Chris Bachelder

As mentioned above, Bachelder’s my new obsession, really funny, but sad and true and beautifully written. Abbott Awaits is three months in the life of a man waiting to be a dad for the second time, and U.S! is an amazing book where (real) muckraking novelist Upton Sinclair is resurrected time and again and is about the power of literature and art and what it’s for etc and is also very funny.

On Warne – Gideon Haigh

A book of essays about Shane Warne by probably the best cricket writer working today, maybe ever.

Going Native – Stephen Wright

Dreamlike linked stories about America and the West in the late 20th century. Lush writing and strong imagery – I’m still thinking about this regularly a couple of months after finishing it.

The Third Policeman – Flann O’Brien

I had no idea this was so good – written in the 30s, published in the 60s, Irish surreal comedy masterpiece. Casually profound.

The Rest is Noise: Listening To The 20th Century – Alex Ross

A properly engrossing book about 20th century classical music. One that surprised me with how much I enjoyed it.

Written by hahildebrand

December 12, 2016 at 8:11 pm

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My favourite books of 2015

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Hello. These are the books I enjoyed reading most during 2015. If I get the chance I might come back and give a bit of description/my reasons for enjoyment for these, but we’ll go with some straightforward lists for now. These may also be added to in the next ten days as I’ve got a few interesting books in the pile. In no particular order:

Published in 2015

Undermajordomo Minor – Patrick deWitt

The Reflection – Hugo Wilcken

The Cartel – Don Winslow

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed – Jon Ronson

The Vorrh – Brian Catling

Touch – Claire North

Dictator – Robert Harris

The Sellout – Paul Beatty

Near Enemy – Adam Sternbergh

Ancillary Mercy – Ann Leckie

The Fat of Fed Beasts – Guy Ware

 

Not published in 2015

The Mezzanine – Nicholson Baker

The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band who Burned a Million Pounds – John Higgs

The Book of Illusions – Paul Auster

Gun, With Occasional Music – Jonathan Lethem

Bunny Modern – David Bowman

Copenhagen (which is a play, but I read it, and it was good to read) – Michael Frayn

Replay – Ken Grimwood

The Affirmation – Christopher Priest

Dare Me – Megan Abbott

The Broken Shore – Peter Temple

Truth – Peter Temple

The Lathe of Heaven – Ursula le Guin

 

Re-read in 2015

The Tetherballs of Bougainville – Mark Leyner

Written by hahildebrand

December 21, 2015 at 3:08 pm

Posted in Things

The Chess Game (erotic fan fiction)

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The political comedian Chris Coltrane sits down to play chess with me. The sunlight refracts off his oiled muscles. It’s very sensual.

“Would you like to be black or white?” I ask him.

His eyes lock with mine, erotically.

“As a radical leftwing comedian, I don’t see any difference between the two,” he says.

OK, I think. Hot.

“I choose to be white,” I say. “But only in a chess context, you understand.”

“No,” Chris Coltrane says. “I will never understand.”

I explain that because I am white, I have the privilege of going first.

“Oh?” he purrs, cocking an eyebrow. “It’s like a metaphor for something.”

The political comedian applies balm to his lips.

“Are your lips dry because of the activism, the protests and so forth?” I enquire, my pulse quickening.

“Yes,” he says. He nods at the chess board. “Begin.”

Trembling, I move a pawn.

“Stop!” Chris Coltrane cries, suddenly. “That chess piece, what is it called?”

“A pawn,” I reply, attempting to hide my excitement.

“Ah,” he says. “And this pawn, it is willingly sacrificing itself in a meaningless battle in order to protect the other, taller pieces, the established upper classes and hierarchy of this board? The military, clerics and nobility?”

I gulp.

“Y-yes,” I say.

“I see,” Chris Coltrane says. A wicked smile plays at the corners of his freshly lubricated lips. “Tell me the name of the piece again.”

My breath is short.

“Pawn,” I say.

“Pawn,” he repeats.

“Pawn.”

“Pawn.”

“Pawn.”

“Pawn.”

“Pawn.”

“Pawn.”

“Pawn.”

“Pawn.”

“Pawn.”

“Pawn.”

“Pawn.”

“Pawn.”

“Pawn.”

“Pawn.”

“Pawn.”

“Pawn.”

“Pawn.”

“Pawn.”

“Pawn.”

“Pawn.”

“Pawn.”

THE END

Written by hahildebrand

December 1, 2014 at 10:56 am

Poetry For Supermarkets

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I have started a new site: Poetry For Supermarkets

It features real posts to supermarkets from real people, but in the form of poems.

I hope you like it.

Written by hahildebrand

March 4, 2014 at 7:27 pm

10 annoying breaches of cinema etiquette

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We all like going to the cinema, but as today’s story about a man shooting another man in a texting row (where else but America???) shows, sometimes your actions can really irritate fellow audience members.

To avoid getting shot or worse, here’s our guide to the top 10 cinema audience etiquette gaffes.

DON’T:

  1. Eat anything loud or crunchy, or slurp your drink
  2. Shit yourself
  3. Stage elaborate shadow puppet shows, particularly those mocking the action of the film or your fellow audience members, either directly or via allegory
  4. Spontaneously combust
  5. Rest your feet or ANY other appendage on another cinemagoer without their consent
  6. Attempt Tuvan throat singing in the style of the Tuva people of southern Siberia, even if goaded
  7. Flood the cinema, with water, tears, or any other liquid
  8. Summon demons, hexes or antichrists
  9. Talk
  10. Use opera glasses with comically long lenses which extend from your face all the way to the screen itself

Written by hahildebrand

January 14, 2014 at 12:56 pm

A Literary Event of Some Kind

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Image

The above poster, by the magnificent Hannah Neale, is for a new event I’m running/hosting in Leamington Spa. It is, as is probably pretty evident, called ‘A Literary Event of Some Kind’, as it is some kind of literary event.

It’s a bit of an experiment. The excellent people at LAMP – the Leamington Live Art and Music Project, where we hosted the Tony Law Edinburgh preview earlier this year – approached me to see if there was a way we could hold a kind of non-stuffy, fun, inclusive literary sorta night. This is what I came up with. If it’s successful, we’ll hopefully run them every couple of months.

The format of the night is this: I’m hosting/MCing the thing, talking a bit about what I’ve been reading recently, and I’ll be reading some excerpts from the Literary Review’s 2013 Bad Sex Award nominees throughout. Birmingham-based short story writer Alan Beard will be reading from some of his work, as well as chatting about the craft of writing. I’ll show a book-focused video or two, and we’ll have the inaugural edition of ‘Speech Karaoke’, where a guest actor will pop by to perform a famous speech from history. What will the speech be this time? Check the date of the event – that’s your only clue.

I’ll also be setting a completely voluntary creative writing task for anyone who fancies joining in. We – either the writer, myself, Alan, or our actor guest – will read these at the end of the night. And there will be booze-based encouragement to stick around and hear the results.

The idea is that the night is interesting and fun for both writers and readers, and anyone with an interest in prose. (Any poetry submitted for the creative writing part of the evening will need to be accompanied by a paragraph of justification.)

It happens on Friday November 22, with doors from 7pm, and costs just £3. Check out the venue info here: http://leamingtonlamp.co.uk/event/a-literary-event-of-some-kind/

And purchase tickets in advance here: http://www.skiddle.com/whats-on/Coventry/LAMP/A-Literary-Event-of-Some-Kind/12017590/

And if you want to invite your friends along, there’s a facebook event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1405581996341622/

It’d be ace to see a whole swag of people there. Or failing that, a few people who are really into it. But come along. It’ll be fun.

Written by hahildebrand

November 9, 2013 at 12:06 pm

You are invited to this comedy event, called the Pun Run (see logo)

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Pun Run

 

 

So this is an excellent thing. As a kind of crossover between Warwick Words literary festival and the Leamington Comedy Festival, I’ve been working with DIY comedy wunderkind Bec Hill (one of Time Out’s ‘Top 5 Funniest Comedians on Twitter’) to bring her unique and ridiculous night, The Pun Run, to Leamington Spa. AND IT’S HAPPENING NEXT TUESDAY!! October 15.

The Pun Run is a celebration of the humble and often unfairly derided art of puns and wordplay. Operating on the maxim that ‘a groan is as good as a laugh’ the Pun Run is hugely popular – and lways sold out – in its London base and its Edinburgh Fringe incarnations, and recently debuted in Belfast, where a reviewer described the experience thus: “The audience is left satiated and happy but exhausted, everybody flattened by the pun truck.”

I’ve done a few spots at the Pun Run before and found it stupidly enjoyable, both as performer and audience member. Apart from Bec and myself, there’s an excellent line up of punmeisters and gagsters on the bill for next week, including:

Tony Cowards (“The Punosaurus” – List Magazine)

Darren Walsh (“Deliciously weird wordplay…” – ThreeWeeks.)

Masai Graham (2012 Birmingham New Act of the Year)

Tom Appleton (Best Pun, 2011 Pun Run Competition)

Ben Van Der Velde (“a stunningly quick wit.” – Spoonfed)

Roger Swift (2012 Lastminute Comedy New Act of the Year Finalist)

Phil Pagett (“One of the country’s best new gag writers.” – Gary Delaney)

The whole shebang takes place at the Studio of the Royal Spa Centre in Leamington from 8pm next Tuesday. It costs just a fiver to get in if you book in advance, which is recommended. Book your tickets by calling the box office on 01926 776438 or clicking here to do it online.

If there are tickets available on the door they’ll cost £10 a pop.

If you’re in the Midlands next Tuesday, come along. If you’re not, tell someone who is. It will be enjoyable.