Sunday 28 January 2024

Best of 2023

 The third of my year-in-reading columns has gone up over at Dorian's blog: the best stuff I read in 2023.

Wednesday 10 January 2024

First to Knock, Mr Crabby

I recently read and thoroughly enjoyed a book by a publisher new to me, First to Knock.The book was Jeremy Kitchen's Mr Crabby You Have Died, which was not quite like anything else I've read (always a plus).

Imagine falling into conversation in a bar with a stranger who starts telling you drink-fuelled anecdotes. Anecdotes about being an American soldier during Desert Storm, and being exposed to a blown Sarin gas store. Anecdotes about being a teacher while raddled with heroin. Anecdotes about a beloved but ill-fated hermit crab, weirdo Christian youth camps and incredibly ill-advised sex (not all of these anecdotes connect with each other, but some do, in surprising ways). Hilarious anecdotes and also truly disgusting ones.

Kitchen's book, with all the believable and alarming texture of lived experience, is that encounter in literary form. It's a bracing dose of particularly American ugliness, vividly captured. 

I also love the cover art (by Donald Bruno) and design (by Nick Ferreira). Ferreira has designed a number of excellent covers for First to Knock, as well as some of the album releases they also put out:

First to Knock also publish a free(!) irregular self-titled magazine, which even as a far-flung Australian I have been able to subscribe to, so I'll be interested to see an issue of that when it arrives. The covers so far (with Bruno providing the art to issue 1):

(Click all images for bigger versions)