Posted in update

Book Stuff

As regular readers will know, last month my latest book was published: World Citizen: Allen Ginsberg as Traveller. Today, my mum sent me this:

world citizen allen ginsberg review

“Scottish book of the week”? I like the sound of that…

I also edited the latest edition of Beatdom literary journal, which was published a few days ago. Today I checked Amazon and saw that it was listed as No.1 for Literary Criticism Reference. It’s a small category, but still… I was delighted.

A few days ago, I published an interview with Casey Rae about his forthcoming book on William S. Burroughs. You can read that here. I have reviewed the book for another journal, although I have no idea when that will be published. Probably closer to the actual book’s publication date.

Speaking of Burroughs, my own book has gone through a bit of a resurgence of interest (perhaps the result of being excerpted at Tony Ortega’s website) and is selling very well once again. It got a new review a few days ago from a former Scientologist.

Finally, I was interview by Jon Faia for this website. I mostly talk about the Beat Generation and being a writer.

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Posted in update

New Book: World Citizen

It’s been more than 5 years since Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the ‘Weird Cult’ was published. I quickly began looking around for ideas for my next book, and decided to write about Allen Ginsberg, the poet who wrote “Howl” and “Kaddish” and “America”. After a few false starts, I eventually realized that I could write about his extensive travels. Amazingly, Ginsberg travelled to 66 countries, sometimes spending several years on the road. This was before Google Translate, Tripadvisor, and GPS apps…

Initially, I was interested in how and why he travelled, but as my research led me further into Allen’s world, I realized that travel really shaped who he was. In this new book, called World Citizen: Allen Ginsberg as Traveller, I explore how travel shaped his poetry, politics, and personality. The book is broken into 4 sections, each covering a distinct phase of Allen’s travelling life: his first forays into the wider world, his early major journeys, the India trip that changed him forever, and his last journeys.

You can now buy World Citizen on Amazon, or go ask your local bookshop if you prefer.

You can read some related articles I have written about Ginsberg’s travels during my research for the book:

Posted in update

My Next Book

I am terrible at self-promotional stuff, and I forgot to post the cover of my forthcoming book here.

The book is called World Citizen: Allen Ginsberg as Traveller, and it is essentially a biography of the poet told through the prism of travel.

World Citizen cover

I’ve written a few things over at Beatdom about Ginsberg’s travels. You can also pre-order the book there (and find out a little more info about it).

Posted in update

Publishing Stuff

I mostly use this blog for travel and photography, but I’m sure that my followers know I also do a spot of literary work. Over at www.beatdom.com, you’ll find me musing the Beat Generation. Beatdom is a literary journal that mostly publishes essays about the Beats (and related artists) but also runs the occasional poem or short story.

Last month, Beatdom turned ten years old. We celebrated by publishing our eighteenth issue. I can hardly believe that it’s been a full decade… for a small literary journal, that’s a hell of an achievement.

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In 2010, I think, we grew from just publishing the literary journal into being a publishing company that puts out books about the Beats. At the beginning of May, we released Beat Transnationalism by John Tytell, and we have another two books set for release this year. (I’m also working on a book about Allen Ginsberg, which I expect to finish in 2018.)

I devote most of my time these days to teaching, with any spare time set aside for Beatdom; however, over the past year I’ve been reading into Aldous Huxley, and I wrote this short article about his interest in Scientology. As Tony Ortega astutely noted, it seems I’m developing my own bizarre area of literary studies. A couple of years ago, I wrote a book about William S. Burroughs’ interest in Scientology.

Posted in travel

Buying Beat Books in Chiang Mai

Yesterday I took the bus back to downtown Chiang Mai to further explore this tranquil little city. Last week I went to Wat Phra Singh and wandered a few other places, but I wanted to see more. After all, next weekend I’ll be leaving and I doubt I’ll be back here for a long time.

What I found were a number of fantastic little bookstores tucked away on Chiang Mai’s winding streets. I’m a literature graduate and an obsessive reader, and so having spent years in Asia, where English-language bookstores are naturally few and far between, I was very excited to find that Chiang Mai has several great shops to browse.

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The Lost Book Shop

The first shop I discovered was The Lost Book Shop, which drew me in because right outside there was a special Hunter S. Thompson display! Thompson has been one of my favourite writers (perhaps my absolute favourite) since I was 18 yrs old, and this was the first time in Asia that I’d seen so many of his books collected together. I restrained myself from buying dozens of books and only purchased George Orwell’s Bumese Days and Thompson’s The Great Shark Hunt.

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Hunter S. Thompson collection

Next I found a bookstore with a great Beat name – On the Road Books – which is run by a nice English man, and sits across the road from the U.N. Irish Pub (which I also highly recommend).

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On the Road Books

Here there was no dedicated Beat or Gonzo section, but there was a number of Beat books scattered throughout, including The Beat Book by Anne Waldman. I bought a copy of Jack Kerouac’s Lonesome Traveler.

Finally, I found the mother of all Asian bookstores – and indeed one of the best bookstores I’ve visited in my life – Backstreet Books.

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Backstreet Books – the best book shop in Chiang Mai

I’d heard from a few friends that this was the bookstore to visit, but I didn’t actively look for it. I just sort of stumbled upon it, and I’m glad I did. Inside there are posters and photos from City Lights (the only other bookstore I can think of off the top of my head that is better than Backstreet). At the back of the store there is a Beat section, where they’ve collected dozens of books by or about Hunter S. Thompson (not actually a Beat writer, of course, but still…), Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs.

At this stage I was aware that although I wanted to buy dozens of books, I realistically could only buy one more, and it was a tough choice. I picked Allen Ginsberg’s Indian Journals because I actually bought it last year and had it shipped to China, but it never arrived. I believe the Chinese government, in all their censorious wisdom, objected to a book that is so sympathetic to the Tibetan cause.

After that, I retired to the U.N. Irish Pub with my purchases to have a Guinness before making the long trek back to International House, out in the countryside to the south of the city.

If you’d like to find these great bookstores for yourself, you can find them on Google Maps. I don’t know how to embed the map, so I’ll just screenshot it below:

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Bookstores in Chiang Mai
Posted in update

Beatdom #17

To date, all the posts on this website have been travel-related. This one bucks that trend in that it’s about a journal which I recently published. For nine years I’ve been editing Beatdom literary journal and we just put out our seventeenth issue last week. It is, as always, about the men and women of the Beat Generation (this time around it’s more focused on the women) and the theme for this issue is politics – meaning that all the essays relate in some way to both Beat literature and political thought.

Here’s the cover:

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This cool cover was designed by Waylon Bacon, who has drawn many of our previous covers. Check out his website here. You can find Beatdom #17 on Amazon as a regular printed book and also on Kindle.

Below you can see the covers of all our previous issues. Most of these titles can be found on Amazon. A few of them, however, have sadly been lost over the years and only occasionally pop up on eBay and elsewhere. allbeatdoms small

My company, Beatdom Books, which prints Beatdom literary journal, also publishes books. We recently put out Eliot Katz’s The Poetry and Politics of Allen Ginsberg and prior to that we’ve released another of books focused on the Beat Generation, including my own Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the ‘Weird Cult.’ You can see our Beat covers below: All these books can also be found by searching “Beatdom” on Amazon.

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