editor's choice



We’re great Tom Cox fans. We love him, in fact. He first came into our lives on Twitter, when we, like many, many others, followed the hilarious, poignant and sometimes quite daft escapades of his feline friends. This essay collection, 21st-Century Yokel, is, in fact, dedicated to two of them, his (and our) beloved The Bear and Shipley, both no longer with us.

As with Cox’s other books, the wide-ranging essays in 21st-Century Yokel showcase the conversational style which makes his writing so appealing: it’s as if we’re old friends and he’s gifting us with his most intimate thoughts on the world, on nature, swimming, walking, feline interlopers and the people whom he loves best. We’re personally enamoured with his shouty dad, who makes his presence known in essays such as ‘WOFFAL’ and ‘Dawn of the Dad’, but then that’s hardly surprisingly given most Tom Cox fans are.

We were talking with a friend the other day about the rhythms of writing and how quite often the authors one likes most have a particular beat to their works. Cox’s is very steady, yet surprisingly fast-paced given that whatever his subject matter, his tone is reflective, his humour wry, affectionate – rather lovely really.

Cox was a music journalist and music features quite prominently in all his writing. He says that while 21st-Century Yokel isn’t a music book, ‘music found its way in there … and I tended to think of it as an album in some ways: one of those that aren’t quite a concept album but where the track sequence is crucial and sustains a sort of mood and overall coherence.’

If that’s the case, it’s certainly an album that works.



21st-Century Yokel | Unbound | paperback | £9.99 | other editions available

Please support your local bookshops and libraries

To follow Tom or any of his cats, living and not of this earth, please go to his site.

To read, ‘My dad and the toad that lives in his shoe’, Guardian, 9 April 2013, a piece we love.

To hear Tom with Clare Balding on ‘Ramblings’, Dartmoor, Devon, on Radio 4





Acknowledgements: Author quote from an interview with us, ‘Meet Tom Cox’. This review is published as part of the 21st-Century Yokel virtual book tour. Many thanks to lovely Anne Cater for organising it and to the publisher for supplying a copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

Also of interest: ‘Welcome to the Heady Heights’;Falling from the Floating World’; ‘Blood Orange’; Beton Rouge’; ‘Gallowstree Lane‘; The Lost Man‘; ‘Delia Owen’s Where the Crawdad’s Sing’; ‘The Story Keeper, Anna Mazzola’s Gothic novel‘; ‘Midland‘; ‘A Greater God‘; ‘Lisa Ko’s The Leavers, Dialogue’s brilliant debut; ‘We should all be feminists’; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’;RW Kwon’s The Incendiaries’; ‘Beautiful words – The Language of Secrets’; ‘Beauty in translation – Roxanne Bouchard’s French Canadian noir‘; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”’; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

Film: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) – a Billy Wilder classic?; Night Mail (1936), changing the face of British film; A Colour Box by Len Lye (1935); The Splendour of George Stevens’ Giant (1956).

This review is © 2019 by The Literary Shed. All rights reserved. All opinions are our own. We welcome your feedback and comments. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please do contact us to request permission. Thank you so much.