Reviews, criticisms, praise, about Gregory Hill's novels and music

Being vain and desperate people, authors (and their publishers) like to read nice things people say about them, and we want everybody else to read these nice things as well.

So, here's some (mostly) nice stuff that's been written about my books and music.

You may browse up and down this page or click the links below to jump to specific subjects.

Sister Liberty

The Strattford County Novels

East of Denver

The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles

Zebra Skin Shirt

Various interviews and articles about my writing

Various pieces written about my imaginary music label, Sparky the Dog Records



A delightful romp through mystics and cults, a fractured American Dream, an immigrant experience of the odd kind, and the rollicking world of the late 1800s.
--Midwest Book Review

The narrative is both whimsical and entertaining, even as it crescendos to a shocking conclusion.

From murder to bear hunts to the deconstruction of the guiding principles of an entire religious sect, Sister Liberty is a fully-fledged revolution.
--Independent Book Review

A funny and subtly subversive historical novel about naïfs in the 19th century.

Gregory Hill is Going Solo--a Westword interview wherein I profanely complain about feckless indie publishers. If you're an aspiring author, feel free to contact me for advice
on how to avoid the clown show.

Gregory Hill Has Some Unconventional Answers About His Craft -- A Colorado Sun piece wherein I exploit the advantages of the interview-by-email.


Like Louis Wain's cat paintings, each stop of Hill's trilogy raises the bar of psychedelic intrigue...Hill is among the finest and most unconventional humorists writing today.
--Zach Boddicker, Author of The Essential Carl Mahogany

Come to the eastern plains of Colorado and savor this tasty concoction of memorable characters, fantastic events, and keen insights into the human condition. This trilogy captures the fearless imagination of Gregory Hill in full, colorful bloom.
-- Mark Stevens, author of the Allison Coil Mystery Series


A breezily readable summer novel that not only entertains but also surprises. It explores the dynamics of family relationships without ever stooping to sentimentality, and it's one of this summer's most pleasant surprises.
–Charles Ealy Austin American-Statesman

East of Denver is a slow burn, but by the end it’s burning hot: you’ll leave this book a little charred. . . This is writing on a par with that of top-flight black-comic novelists like Sam Lipsyte and Jess Walter, and it deserves to be read.
--Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians Trilogy

A witty, snarky, and thoroughly enjoyable read.
--Leah Sims, Portland Book Review

East of Denver is painstakingly funny — the novel offers a deep, dark look into the real life issues that make society uncomfortable.
--Kacy Muir, The Weekender

From beginning to end, the novel's great achievement is Hill's gift of characters: people who are often broken, crumbling, and struggling, but always irresistible.
--Brother Patrick Mary Briscoe, O.P. Dominicana

What makes [East of Denver] special, and especially powerful, is that Hill, like his damaged characters, has a real talent for fucking everything up.
--Seth Blake, Tropmag

Gregory Hill...displays a keen, at times riveting, understanding of the absurdities and freedoms of small-town isolation and the dying way of life that was once the American standard.
--Cherie Ann Parker, Shelf Awareness

There is pathos. Sadness. Dark glimmers of hope. The entire book reveals this balance and shift and makes it absolutely worthwhile to pick up. Hill has a bright future.
--Steven Rosen, Curled Up With a Good Book

[An] agreeable, offbeat debut novel...A story about a father and son who bond against the odds, with an ending as quirkily satisfying as the rest of the book.
--Kirkus Reviews

There’s no fantasy escapism here. It’s real life. And real life is darkly comic.
--Adventures With Words

Hill gives up plenty of laughs to go with the pain...a fine first novel from a writer with a great sense of character

Dark humor, zany characters, and a sharp eye for detail distinguish this arch novel set in Colorado’s dying farmland.
--Marysue Rucci

An eye for detail, an ear for dialogue, and a knack for story-telling distinguish this unflinching novel of rural America.
--Publishers Weekly

Cleverly plotted and well-written. This is a must read!
--Viviane Crystal Crystal Book Reviews

Le roman est court, plutôt bien écrit.
--Sous la grêle osée

Even the dead cat can't rest in peace.
--Cupcake's Book Cupboard

Best Shows in Denver
Hill’s gift for incorporating the supernatural and even science fiction concepts into deeply personal novels about people struggling with their personal shortcomings in life and in their relationships or attempts thereof are always incredibly engaging and entertaining brimming with Hill’s vivid descriptions, sense of humor and attention to detail whether that’s in recreating past Denver and Joes, Colorado locations or intricacies of plot. Zebra Skin Shirt may be Hill’s most unusual novel to date and his best.
--Queen City Sounds and Art, July 18 2018

Five Best Literary Events This Week
--Westword, July 16 2018

Mark Stevens interview/book review of Zebra Skin Shirt
Here's a chewy excerpt of the review:
Zebra Skin Shirt is Jack Kerouac on amphetamines. It’s Proust on meth. It’s James Joyce on nitrous oxide. It’s Lewis Carroll after smoking a bowl of The Blue Dream.
--Don't Need a Diagram July 15, 2018


Hill is a dialogue artist, sculpting his characters with depth and the pitfalls of humanity...The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles is a rich and complex western that crosses over into the shady depths of noir fiction. It’s a stunning read.
--Sarah Reichert The Writing Bug

Like Hill’s superb debut, East of Denver, The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles surely is a damn fine, if distinctly peculiar, country noir.--Booklist

A wild, weird, fun ride.
--Yuma Pioneer

Crazy novel. And I mean that in the very best sense. Absolutely loved it.
-- Mike Keefe, political cartoonist

Impressively well written from beginning to end, The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles is a terrifically entertaining read and showcases extraordinary and imaginative storytelling abilities.
--Midwest Book Review

The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles will take you to places you didn't know existed--both on the hard plains of eastern Colorado and deep inside the soul of an unforgettable man who knows the world is a mean place. After a sip or two of this richly-told novel, you'll want to glug the whole thing down.
--Mark Stevens, author of the Allison Coil Mystery Series

The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles renders Eastern Colorado/High Plains life as it really has always been: down-to-earth, matter-of-fact, and always on the brink of psychedelia. This is an unapologetic triumph of contemporary Rural American Realism.
--Zach Boddicker, author of The Essential Carl Mahogany

Expertly wrought weirdness abounds—you won’t want it to end. Think, a poodle with no name meets Stephen King.
--Barry Wightman, author of Pepperland


Absurd and surreal, without ever crossing the line into silliness, Zebra Skin Shirt is an excellent novel from an author that clearly understands the stupidity, chaos and madness of existence, and isn’t afraid to embrace it all and put it on the page.
--Cory Casciato, Suspect Press

It’s a cosmic ordeal, Greg Hill’s third excellent novel in a row, and a trip well worth taking.
--Mike Molnar Chicken Pickin' King of Country/Western Guitar

A basketball referee with the Pynchonesque name of Narwal Slotterfield orders a hamburger at a diner in eastern Colorado and time stops across the universe. What happens after that becomes a funhouse-mirror holograph of a novel produced by Slotterfield's cornered brain as it tries to understand this new world. Time hasn’t stopped, he learns, it has just slowed down, slow enough to allow Gregory Hill’s wild story to unfold in completely unexpected ways.
--John Vernon, Author of Lucky Billy

Three cheers for the unforgettable former amateur basketball referee, Narwhal W. Slotterfield, and his creator, the wildly imaginative Gregory Hill.
--Mike Keefe, Political Cartoonist

Zebra Skin Shirt is Jack Kerouac on amphetamines. It’s Proust on meth. It’s James Joyce on nitrous oxide. It’s Lewis Carroll after smoking a bowl of The Blue Dream.
--Mark Stevens, Author of the Allison Coil Mystery Series

imagination on full-blast is a force of nature. This ranks with the best of Vonnegut's mind-benders, but with more laughs page-for-page.
--Zach Boddicker, Author of The Essential Carl Mahogany

A psychedelic tale of adventure and love unfolding on Hill’s beloved Eastern Colorado Plains.
--Richard Saxton, M12 Studio Director and Professor University of Colorado Boulder

--May 2019: Zebra Skin Shirt was a finalist for the
Forward Indie Awards

--May 2019: Zebra Skin Shirt was a finalist for the
National Indie Excellence Awards

--April 2019: Zebra Skin Shirt was a finalist for the
Da Vinci Eye Award (for cool book covers)

--April 2019: Zebra Skin Shirt won the American Fiction Award for Literature



Here a couple of interview segments I did with High Fiction, the hosts of the Fucking Fabulous Fiction Fest. Probably not appropriate for younger viewers. Also, Millennials won't get it, Gen Xers won't care, Baby Boomers will be appalled, and the dead will roll in their graves :

Pt 1:

Pt. 2:

First Man Interview
Possibly the kookiest interview I've done (so far).
--broad, July 23, 2016

Yuma County native scores again with novel
--Yuma Pioneer, June 11, 2105

Gregory Hill on his new book The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles
--Westword June 3, 2015

Q&A With Gregory Hill
--Don't Need a Diagram, June 1, 2015

A Mothers' Day tribute...scroll to the bottom of the article
--Denver Post, May 10, 2015

"One of the Best Book covers of 2013"
--New York Times December 13, 2013

East of Denver Now a Screenplay
--Yuma Pioneer August 15, 2013

East of Denver Wins Award
--Yuma Pioneer July 12, 2013

Writing and Rock & Roll (and Découpage ) — Q & A With Gregory Hill: East of Denver
--Don't Need a Diagram, November 6, 2012

Going Home: An Exclusive Interview with Gregory Hill, Author of East of Denver
--Authorlink August, 2012

Hill's East of Denver Makes it to the Shelves
--Yuma Pioneer July 5, 2012

East of Denver Author Navigates His Newfound Popularity
--Denver Post July 14, 2011

Yuma County Native Wins Novel Contest
--Yuma Pioneer June 23, 2011

Vote now to help local writer Gregory Hill win a book contract and a hefty advance--Westword May 27, 2011


The A.V. Club Reviews This is What Happens

By Matt Schild -November 17, 2009

The power-pop underground exists in a sort of blissful parallel dimension to the mainstream. Each year, hundreds of albums are released to a slight audience of aging record geeks and pop neophytes—and overlooked by the underground press and influential tastemaking critics alike. It’s a dead-end career of preaching to the converted—and the ultimate ambition for countless bands like Six Months To Live.

The group's farewell album, This Is What Happens, is a finale made for the genre, and the foursome couldn’t have found a more fitting way to say goodbye. Six Months stays true to its back-to-basics guitar aesthetic, mixing traces of middle years Kinks by way of Wilco with the sun-drenched sparkle of The Zombies in an Apples In Stereo kind of way. Held together with an elitism that dutifully avoids anything obvious between Big Star and Britpop, This Is What Happens is double black-diamond, experts-only power pop that’s almost proudly resigned to its niche market.

“Friend Of Mine” lets rhythm of Merseybeat riffs wrestle with a Californian sunshine, in the classic guitar-pop proportions that define most of the album. “Carol Is” and “Let The Guitar Burn” rope in the faintest traces of roots rock, with their acoustic guitars and deliberate rhythms, though neither is present enough to throw the band out of its carefully cultivated pop-purist zone.

You don’t form a classic power-pop band because you want to save rock 'n' roll, become a major-league rock star, or impress the hip, young blogger set. You do it because you love the form and want to try to chase down genre perfection.  It’s a shame Six Months To Live is calling it a day, as This Is What Happens finds songwriting success in an inherently unsuccessful enterprise. Grade: B

*Critic's Choice*
Six Months to Live - Final Show/CD Release
critics choice

*Album Review*
Six Months to Live - This Is What Happens

By Cory Casciato. Nov 3, 2009

It's a shame that Six Months to Live's time is up (their final show, a CD release for this album, is Saturday, November 14), since this disc shows them reaching a new level of polish. The group's sound has evolved to something like Beulah laced with a more cynical They Might Be Giants and a touch of Wilco, which is not a bad place to wind up.


That style lets the strong songwriting take the forefront, resulting in a solid batch of weird yet appealing pop tunes with a touch of humor. Standouts include the catchy spazz-pop strains of "Knock Three Times" and "Cool Kids," the faux-'70s smooth rock of "Sole Operator," and the purported closer, "Welcome Home," which really ramps up the Wilco references.

Six Months to Live has less than six weeks to live

By Cory Casciato in Upbeats and Beatdowns
Mon., Oct. 5 2009

Local oddball popsters Six Months to Live are calling it quits -- just as soon as the new album is finished and released. "If stoned friends are any judge of quality, it's going to be an incredible record," frontman Gregory Hill says. The band's CD release and final show will be November 14 at the Meadowlark.

And as for why the band is breaking up? Hill shows the same flair for explanation that he does for obtuse and off the wall lyrics. "In four words: creative differences, sort of. Not really, though," he says "It's mostly the fact that we have different ambitions but virtually all of those ambitions require more time than we collectively have and so therefore couldn't complete any of them even if we agreed on all of them." Regardless of reason, Denver is losing a fine pop outfit with a flair for the absurd. We'll miss these guys. Let's hope Hill and the other members have some individual projects up their sleeves for the future.


Westword Music Showcase reviewed: Bar Standard

By Cory Casciato in Last Night's Show, Music Showcase, Monday, Jun. 15 2009

Six Months to Live - 12:00 - MS

Actually, this got started at more like 12:20 or so. What, a festival running late? Inconceivable! I've got the most recent Six Months to Live album and have enjoyed its poppy goodness for sometime - matter of fact, I had "Spin a Top" stuck in my head for a couple days before the festival. And they played it for me. The rock elements of this band definitely came out more live than on the disc. Also, I loved the keytar and the contrasting fashion of the two leads - one wore a bathrobe and pajamas, the other a suit and tie. Classy.

Verdict: Not as tight as on the album, but considerably more rocking. I'd definitely enjoy a full set from this band sometime.

Flier of the Week: Six Months to Live at Meadowlark

By Cory Casciato. Friday, May 15, 2009


Seems like just yesterday I was writing about the influence of horror movies on my musical taste (okay, it was two days ago) when along comes a flier sporting an image of the kind of thing I'd expect to see chasing some hapless victim in the next Silent Hill movie. Or maybe an exceprt from a book of the most bizarre medical aberattions ever. Supporting this groovy image is some nice, stark typography conveying just the minimum set of info needed to get you out to the show -- which I really appreciate, since I find a lot of great fliers ruined by too much text. And if you look closely, you might notice that hand has six fingers -- one for each month to live for the titular band. Deep, man. Real deep. And, as always, if you click on that image you'll get a bigger version in a popup window.

Six Months to Live

A Better Place
Sparky the Dog Records
May 06, 2009

By Cory Casciato

better place

Perhaps having a short time to live makes you reach for everything you hoped to accomplish in a longer lifetime. That could explain why A Better Place is so crammed full of ideas, influences and styles over the course of its fourteen tracks. Gregory Hill and his cohorts channel the Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Brit pop, Elvis Costello, Neutral Milk Hotel and more. The results aren't always great, but they hit more often than not. Unfortunately, the last third of the disc is fairly weak, dragging the average down a bit. If the whole disc lived up to the strength of its best tracks, such as the bizarre and macabre "Vampires Killed Our Parents" or the insanely catchy "Spin a Top," it would be a minor classic.

Freaky Friday: "Falconry" and the Ides of March Party

By Cory Casciato in Freaky Friday - Friday, Mar. 20 2009

ides of march

I do so love it when I come across something local that's freaky enough to make the cut on Freaky Friday. And let me tell you lovers of weird shit, I cut no corners on today's entry. To the contrary, this actually bounced a great entry from the '70s that I'm now saving for next week! Today's freak out comes courtesy of the Sparky the Dog project STD for the Holidays. This year, they chose the sorely overlooked Ides of March to celebrate with a compilation of themed songs. Apparently, St. Patrick's Day and Valentine's Day were briefly considered but finally rejected, "Because there are already too many goddamned songs about love and booze, " as project lead Soapy Argyle explains. The criteria for inclusion were simple: anyone who submitted was included. The results include some fun, let-your-hair-down moments from bands such as the Hollyfelds and deadbubbles, but the real gems come from, as Argyle explains, "Humans who you'd never expect to record anything ever," such as Professor Falcon, a PhDed archaelogist who contributes the mind-bending puppet-metal clip found after the jump. Watch it, then grab the whole comp, for free!, by going to the STD for the Holidays homepage.


April 10 2008 - "Because you like your rock 'n' roll mixed with biting social commentary, Six Months to Live is here for you. ...Listen to some of the new tracks — especially the catchy 'Vampires Killed Our Parents' — at"
-- Ricardo Baca Denver Post Best Bets

April 2008 - " "With the release of their new album, A Better Place, Six Months to Live is gearing up for the inevitable onslaught of media attention and groupie love that will follow. Judging by their beautiful, playful singing and songwriting they had better start getting used to the bright flashing lights of fame."
--This Week In Denver

Six Months to Live: An Affordable Alternative to Psychotherapy

"...Six Months to Live forge the history of rock styles into a modern psychosocial amalgam that includes harmonic surprises, time changes, and bridges that never return to the verse, but will instead launch into a crescendo coda...Six Months to Live often seem like they are balanced precariously over a pit of destruction. And yet, at the conclusion of a show, the audience inevitably has the wide-eyed look of those who have undergone an intensive--and remarkably affordable--session of group therapy."--Enfuse Magazine







best of


On Honey Bucket , Soapy Argyle solo disc: “… I'm absolutely floored. [Honey Bucket] is very cool, extremely clever, creative, melodic pop music,with terrific harmonies and hooks galore. Great vocals and playing complete the picture. You're all over the place musically, and thank God for that: this is some of the most inventive stuff I've heard in ages, with real variety that makes for a fantastic listening experience” – Alan Haber, host of the Pure Pop radio show, WEBR

Matt Shupe The Combined Effects of Caffeine and Alcohol (Sparky the Dog Records). Mixing uppers and downers is risky business. But in the hands of multi-instrumentalist Matt Shupe (who enlists pals from Mr. Tree & the Wingnuts and the Denver Gentlemen), humor and heartache make for compatible bedfellows. Easygoing vocals complement clever tunes about lonely pear-shaped girls, Django Reinhardt and a devious dog named Henry Kissinger. -- John La Briola Westword

Soapy Argyle Sycamore (Sparky the Dog Records). Soapy Argyle (Greg Hill) describes himself as an "inventor of the binary logic box and writer of quirk" -- which almost explains his approach to music. Argyle digs flowers and Tiny Tim, rides his bike in the snow, raps, and has no problem donning the goat horns of a confused lounge singer. But underneath that chameleonic exterior beats the heart of a charmingly experimental goofball. -- John La Briola Westword

Soapy Argyle MacAlaster (Sparky the Dog Records)
Soapy Argyle realized that the magic of digital technology is the very thing that would allow him to piece together a simple mock opera that condemns the digital age… A good-natured mix of rural tones, jazzbo narration, psychedelia and sea chanteys, MacAlaster (pronounced "mackle-astor") even comes with a swell cartoon booklet by Starving Magpie progenitor Lucas Richards. Arrrrr! – John La Briola Westword

Best Compilation Dedicated to a Demonic Dachshund
Halloweiner Dog Forget vampires, mummies and werewolves. Last Halloween's most frightening spectacle was an evil dachshund flying on oversized bat wings, shooting death rays from a pair of black, lifeless eyes, transforming the Front Range into a smoking crater. Amusing cover art aside, Sparky the Dog's spooktastic holiday compilation was a fun, apple-bobbing affair cobbled together by Soapy Argyle, Matt Shupe, Brett Duesing, Andy Gross, Jeff Cohen and others from the homespun collective. Boasting fourteen tracks that range from "Booty Pirate" to "Decomposing Beethoven," Halloweiner Dog has a bark worse than its bite -- but don't ever look it in the eye if you want to live to see another footlong.
Best of Denver, Westword

"After landing on Skull Island, George W. Bush challenges a group of curious stegosauruses and T. rexes to a fistfight before hightailing it back to Air Force One. The twelve-page comic comes with a 'handy metaphoric guide' ('Air Force One equals Penis') and alludes to everything from nuclear proliferation to cultural imperialism. The reader is, of course, meant to root for the dinosaurs." Westword Off Limits, 2004

Captain Missiletoe: the First Collection : Best Indie Comic Collection: "[There is absolutely nothing worth quoting from this article]" - Westword

"Cops in Hi-Tops" from Now Bring That Here, by Skinner (Sparky the Dog Records)
If they're not bumped down to vice squad for violating dress code, the lawmen depicted in this amusing back-porch ditty from pro-femme songstress Hilary Skinner could probably moonlight as semi-approachable bouncers. There's something about a man in uniform. Westword

Mr. Tree and the Wingnuts: On a Wing and a Prayer- Westword , 2001 Music Showcase- Westword ,2000 Best of Nutritious Release - Westword