Archive for the 'Buy The Books' Category


Here is an (anonymous) review on Amazon of Mr Key’s Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives:

This is a near-perfect example of a gift book that keeps on giving. Small and appealing, with a well-organised, encyclopaedia-style layout and charming portrait illustrations. The text is a delight – easy to dip in and out of, and full of facts that are perplexing, bizarre, amusing and sometimes poignant. What really sets it apart, however, is Frank Key’s unerring eye for the deliciously obscure and his unique sense of humour, which runs like a seam of precious metal through the book. An unexpected treasure.

I need hardly remind you lot that you are under instructions to buy copies of the book for everybody you know. While you’re about it, you should add your ha’ppenyworth to the online reviews at Amazon. You know it makes sense.

Narcoleptic Presbyterians

Tomorrow sees, at long last, the publication of my important reference book Mr Key’s Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives. Within its pages you will learn, among much else, that Eric Clapton is an anagram of Narcoleptic, that Britney Spears is an anagram of Presbyterians, and that, during a foopball match in which the Brazilian Ronaldo faced an opposing defender named Rolando, a commentator asked “how long is it since Ronaldo was marked by an anagram of himself?”. There is much more in the book other than anagrams, so go and queue up at your nearest bookshop for opening time tomorrow morning …

Furrowed Brow

Yes, yes, I know there has been an unseemly silence at Hooting Yard for a while. There are a number of reasons for this, the only one of interest to you lot being that I have received the page proofs for Mr Key’s Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives, to be published (at last!) by Constable in September. This is my final opportunity to proofread the text of this classic reference work, so you can imagine your beloved Mr Key peering myopically at the pages, brow furrowed in concentration, trying not to dribble, and having to go and have a lie down in a darkened room every once in a while.

Meanwhile, for those of you suffering from Too Few Postages At Hooting Yard Mental Imbalance Syndrome, I ought, belatedly, to let you know that ResonanceFM is now uploading editions of the radio show on to its Mixcloud page almost as soon as they are broadcast. That link takes you to all the Resonance programs – this link is to the Hooting Yard shows currently online. (If it doesn’t work, just search for Hooting Yard from the main page.) That should keep you occupied for the time being.

Back soon, with unfurrowed brow.

The Funny Mountain


Crack open a bottle of aerated lettucewater, toss your pointy hat into the air, and cut several brisk capers around your hovel! The cause of your unalloyed glee is the publication of a brand new Hooting Yard paperback, the eighth in the series. The Funny Mountain is now available for purchase from Lulu, so point your browser over there at once, and buy untold copies of what they are already calling the most important sweeping paragraphs of majestic prose since oo-er missus I don’t know when!


There may be a short interval of unearthly silence at Hooting Yard, during which time Mr Key is engaged in the important business of concocting, for your delight, a paperback book. If all goes well, this will be available from Lulu in time for you to purchase multiple copies as Christmas gifts for your nearest and dearest and for anybody else you feel compelled to present with a Christmas gift, whomsoever they may be. Personally, I always feel the need to give a gift to the newsagent’s cat. I never do, because it is a very stupid cat and would neither understand nor appreciate any gift I might give it, but every year I feel I ought to. Thus are my Christmases ruined, as I toss and turn and bite my pillow, racked with catguilt. Your Christmas, on the other hand, will be one of unsurpassed joy, as you clutch the latest Hooting Yard paperback to your bosom, weeping with gratitude.

Paris In The The Autumn

The Public Domain Review Book Of Essays 2011-2013, which I told you lot about yesterday, is reviewed on the Paris Review website. Well, sort of reviewed. The author confesses he had never heard of Christopher Smart before, and devotes the bulk of his piece to a summary of Mr Key’s essay on Jubilate Agno. I added a comment directing readers to the audio recording at the Internet Archive. Sooner or later, Germander Speedwell and I are going to “go viral”, I am sure of it.

A Timely Reminder

It has come to my attention that some among you lot are not spending your appointed three hours per day listening to Jubilate Agno, Christopher Smart’s lengthy and demented poem, recited in full by Mr Key and Germander Speedwell. Happily, there is a link to the recording at the Public Domain Review. Backsliders take note!

Which prompts me to bring to your attention the newly-published Public Domain Review : Selected Essays 2011-2013, a book which you ought to buy immediately. Go here for further details and ordering information. Mr Key’s piece on Kit Smart is included in the book, so it is a necessary purchase (along with Kew. Rhone.) for all fanatically devoted Hooting Yard completists, which of course is every last one of you.


Kew. Rhone.

When Kew. Rhone. was released by Virgin Records back in 1977, it was somewhat overshadowed by another record issued by the label on the very same day – Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols. The influence of John Lydon’s band was immeasurable, prompting thousands of snotty and not-so-snotty teenagers to form their own groups and make their own racket. Kew. Rhone. had far fewer adherents, but it had a decisive influence on some, not least on Mr Key himself. Along with Edward Gorey, Kew. Rhone.’s lyricist and illustrator Peter Blegvad was my teenage self’s great creative spur, firing my imagination in ways that have not yet fully worked themselves out.

Almost four decades on, Kew. Rhone. is now a book, and one which I urge every last one of you lot to add to your shelves. It is with a certain amount of overexcitement that I tell you I am one of the contributors, so quite apart from its many other charms, the book is a necessary purchase for all devoted Hooting Yardists. Here is the press release:

First released in 1977, Kew. Rhone. is an album by a mismatched assortment of musicians performing intricate jazz- and pop-inflected songs with lyrics about unlikely subjects and unlikelier objects, lyrics which refer to diagrams or function as footnotes, or are based on anagrams and palindromes.

Kew. Rhone. would never trouble the charts, it aspired to higher things, and yet, re-released in various formats over the decades, curiosity about this categorically elusive work has grown. Now its authors and some of its connoisseurs have broken silence to discuss the record and to reflect upon the times in which it and they themselves were forged.

Peter Blegvad, Kew. Rhone.’s lyricist and illustrator, excavates each song in turn, uncovering themes and sources. In the second part of the book, a consortium of writers and artists respond to the album in various ways, illuminating without dispelling the mystery of a work designed to resist interpretation even as it invites it.

With contributions from: Amy Beal, Carla Bley, Franklin Bruno, Sheridan Coakley, Jonathan Coe, Jane Colling, Andrew Cyrille, François Ducat, John Greaves, Doug Harvey, Lisa Herman, Jeff Hoke, Dana Johnson, Andrew Joron, Glenn Kenny, Frank Key, Simon Lucas, Karen Mantler, Harry Mathews, Tanya Peixoto, Benjamin Piekut, Margit Rosen, Philip Tagney, Robert Wyatt, Rafi Zabor and Siegfried Zielinski.

Kew. Rhone. is published by Uniform Books on 26 November.


Unexciting Book News

Back in February I announced the forthcoming book Mr Key’s Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives. You lot have no doubt been panting with spittle-flecked anticipation ever since, impatiently awaiting the day when you can sashay into your nearest bookshop and buy dozens of copies for family, friends, and semiliterate hobbledehoys you encounter in the queue at the soup kitchen.

Alas! What with one thing and another, unbeknown to me, Constable have decided to postpone publication until September 2015. To ensure that your Christmas is not thereby ruined, I will try my best to issue a brand new Lulu paperback for the festive season. Watch this space.

Exciting Book News

You lot are already aware, I think, that Mr Key is a jolly, fun-crazed fellow, ever prepared to sprinkle a little happiness into your godawful lives. Indeed, I am often mistaken for Santa Claus, or at least a rakishly thin version of him dressed in drab rather than red, without a bulging sack of gift-wrapped treats for well-behaved tinies, and unaccompanied by reindeer. But those caveats aside, it can be hard to tell the difference, so lavishly do I spread joy and hysteria where’er I trudge.

So it should come as no surprise that already, in mid-February, I have solved all your Christmas present purchasing worries for 2014. For on 6 November this year, the splendid publishing house of Constable will unleash upon a panting world Mr Key’s Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives. You can already go and pre-order your copy.


Now I had better finish writing the damned thing.

Baffling, Brilliant, Brutal, & Hysterically Funny

Hooting-Book-Cover-for-web-pageNow here is a treat for you lot. The splendid persons at Dabbler Editions, purveyors of e-books to the e-literate, have launched upon the world an e-anthology of Mr Key’s outpourings. By Aerostat To Hooting Yard : A Frank Key Reader contains 147 stories selected by the estimable Roland Clare, who has also written a scholarly introduction. Truly it may be said he has pored over numberless sweeping paragraphs of majestic prose and has actually managed to work out some of the things going on inside Mr Key’s brainpans.

According to the Dabbler, the anthology is “baffling, brilliant, brutal, and hysterically funny”. It is also dirt cheap, well within the means of even the most impecunious reader (few, if any, of whom are as impecunious as Mr Key himself). And remember, you do not need a Kindle to read a Kindle e-book. There are plenty of ways to read this earth-shattering and heart-rending tome on any of the electronic contraptions you might have lying about in your hovel. Just ask your nearest computer whizz person.

So the basic idea is that you go and buy the book from or or amazon.wherever-you-are. You then award it five stars and post a review explaining that it is the most noble effusion of the human spirit since [insert previous noble effusion of your choice]. You then harry and hector everybody you know, and buttonhole strangers in the street, also to buy the book. And on the seventh day you may put your feet up and actually read it.

Come on, readers. If you cannot make this the bestselling e-book of all time, you can at least ensure that Mr Key is in with a chance of winning the mrs joyful prize for rafia work.

N.B. Those of you active on Facecloth and Twitter should strain every sinew to splurge news of the book all over the place. Remember, you will get your reward in heaven.


What with all this book research, Hooting Yard is taking on a rather neglected air, I’m afraid. But a man can only write so much, even Mr Key!

What is happening at the moment is that instead of sitting down with my goose-quill and my parchment and painstakingly inscribing sweeping paragraphs of majestic prose for the elves in the cellar to tap out on a keyboard and post on Het Internet, instead of that more or less daily routine I have devised a quite different routine, which involves browsing through various dusty tomes on the creaking bookshelves of Haemoglobin Towers, winnowing from them choice snippets about the lives and absurdities of persons part and present. Persons such as, to pluck an example at random . . .

Peary, Robert (American explorer, 1856 – 1920). Peary had idiosyncratic views on how best to survive the harsh polar climate. On his expeditions, he never slept in a tent, preferring to remain out in the open with his dogs. He chewed frozen chunks of pemmican (concentrated fat and protein) rather than cooking it.

Today I have also added to my manuscript Britney Spears, Cecil B. DeMille, the ornithologist and aviator Angelo d’Arrigo, and the tearaway son of Edward G. Robinson, among others. No wonder by this time of day (just after 8.00 PM) my wits are addled. (Actually, they were addled simply from considering the activities of Angelo d’Arrigo, but you will have to wait for the book to come out to find out about him.)

So I am going to do my best to inject a bit of vitamin-enhanced vim ‘n’ verve into Hooting Yard, but I hope you will bear with me. Of course one way to hasten my completion of the book so we can all get back to blessed normality is for you lot to send me your own choice snippets of odd and unlikely biographical flapdoodlery (with a note on sources).

The Book

So … this book I am working on, due out next year. It will be a whole volume of Brief Lives, as posted recently in The Dabbler. As I explained there, the entries are not really “lives”, in the sense of potted biographies, but a single snippet about each subject, which could be an amusing or bemusing fact, an anecdote, a quotation by or about the person, or in some cases simply the preposterously lengthy title of a book they have written, as in this case:

Mowbray, Jay Henry (American writer, 20th century). Mowbray was the author of the 1912 book Sinking Of The “Titanic”, Most Appalling Ocean Horror With Graphic Descriptions Of Hundreds Swept To Eternity Beneath The Waves; Panic Stricken Multitude Facing Sure Death, And Thrilling Stories Of This Most Overwhelming Catastrophe To Which Is Added Vivid Accounts Of Heart-Rending Scenes, When Hundreds Were Doomed To Watery Graves, Compiled From Soul Stirring Stories Told By Eye Witnesses Of This Terrible Horror Of The Briny Deep.

Much of the material I have gathered thus far (including Mowbray) lies buried deep within the Hooting Yard archives, but of course my research is taking me further afield, to dusty tomes on library shelves. And you lot can be of assistance, by bringing to my attention bits and bobs of information that deserve a place in the book.

The criteria for entries are that they are : amusing or bemusing (or both) ; true, or at least attested as true by a reliable source ; not widely known (though I realise that is a subjective judgement) ; and, oh, there was a fourth, but I cannot recall what it was.

I know all of you will be panting with eagerness to assist Mr Key in his endeavours, and all assistants will be thanked by name in the book. Please send your suggestions to hooting [dot] yard [at] gmail [dot] com. As this will be a scholarly work of reference, please give details of your sources.

Meanwhile, here, for your amusement, is another brief life lugged out of the archives:

Nazário de Lima, Ronaldo Luís (Brazilian footballer, b. 1976). During a football match in 2009, referring to a footballer named Rolando, a television commentator wondered “how long is it since Ronaldo was marked by an anagram of himself?”

Sparse Potsages

I noted the other day that potsages [sic] would be sparse for a while, but I do not want you lot to think I am staring vacantly out of the window with nothing going on in my noggin. If anything, the Key Cranium – soon to be declared a national monument, or possibly even an international monument – is fizzing and bubbling like unto a potion in a test tube on a bench in a laboratory wherein Dr Fang and his grotesque assistant Mungo do whatever it is they do in old crackly black and white films.

So there is much tippy-tapping taking place at Haemoglobin Towers, but none of it is being posted here, or indeed anywhere. The reason for this is that I have somehow found myself having hit upon a scheme deemed to be “commercially viable”, and I am preparing a book to be brought mewling into the light by a reputable publisher next year. For that reason, too, there will not be a Hooting Yard paperback from Lulu this year, although there will be something for you to get your grubby mitts on in time for Christmas – more news of that soon.



You lot need to replace your copies of Dracula by Bram Stoker, and you need to do so right now. Well, actually, make that on Thursday, when the new paperback edition pictured above is published. The reason you need to do so is because this edition is illustrated by my second-born son, Edwood Burn. It is his first publication, released as he begins the final year of his illustration degree, so it seems to me you ought to go and buy it out of your devoted loyalty to Hooting Yard.