The Albion Beatnik Bookstore website (or how a bookshop can change a light bulb)

The web page of the Albion Beatnik Bookstore in Oxford: muses and misspills on books, jazz, poetry, stuff like false flags and smoke screen: is randomly decrepid and is neo-bankrupt: is so analogue it's anal.

Sucking Mintoes in the Bath with Agatha Christie

“Poetry is not the most important thing in life… I’d much rather lie in a hot bath reading Agatha Christie and sucking sweets.” – Dylan Thomas The Orient Express stops … Continue reading

1st July 2017 · Leave a comment

It’s the Church Pew that Moves, Not the Earth

You gotta be bonkers not to love Barbara Pym’s novels. Her acme was a 1950s suburban or neo-rural setting where The Archers doesn’t quite meet James Bond, coz you don’t get … Continue reading

20th June 2017 · Leave a comment

Dornford Yates: Snobbery with Violence

It is wonderful to judge a book by its cover, to date a book by its cover also. Here is a recent second-hand addition here: Blind Corner by Dornford Yates, … Continue reading

27th March 2017 · Leave a comment

Filming Bernard O’Donoghue read ‘Connolly’s Bookshop’

Bernard O’Donoghue’s poetry collection The Seasons of Cullen Church (Faber, 2016) is lyrical and observant, an elegiac lament, beautiful so often, riddled with memories of a childhood spent near Cork. … Continue reading

14th March 2017 · Leave a comment

The Moving Toyshop & the Awkward Hour Between Evensong & Cocktails

EDMUND CRISPIN’s The Moving Toyshop is one of the classic Oxford novels. Crispin was the pseudonym of Robert Bruce Montgomery, a composer of vocal and choral music which included An Oxford … Continue reading

27th February 2017 · Leave a comment

Kerouac & the Sputnik

Whilst living a fairly dissolute life – a university drop out, a naval honourable discharge, arrested as an accessory to murder – Jack Kerouac wrote constantly throughout the turmoil in … Continue reading

18th January 2017 · Leave a comment

Opening Lines

I recently posted online my two favourite opening lines from novels: Earthly Powers, Anthony Burgess: “It was the afternoon of my eighty-fifth birthday, and I was in bed with my … Continue reading

11th January 2017 · Leave a comment

Let’s Talk of Graves, of Worms, & Epitaphs; Make Dust our Paper…

So here’s a nice little copy sold yesterday of George Herbert’s The Temple & A Priest to the Temple, Everyman edition, the binding slightly shaky but from a time when … Continue reading

4th January 2017 · Leave a comment

Stig of the Dump, Ardizzone, Go-karts & Girlies

So I met someone last night who is known as Stig (he’s got an otherwise posh name). He’s nicknamed after Clive King’s hero, Stig of the Dump, the now classic … Continue reading

2nd January 2017 · Leave a comment

Ulysses, a Hundred Visions & Revisions, Before the Taking of a Toast & Tea

I never thought I could announce that because of the Christmas rush… well the Beatnik has sold out of James Joyce’s Ulysses. A modernist vade mecum (stream-of-consciousness, experimental prose full of … Continue reading

21st December 2016 · 1 Comment

Tea & Scone with Barbara Pym

If you buy a BARBARA PYM book from the shop before Christmas, you’ll get a free pot of tea with scone, butter, jam and cream. That’s better than any discounted … Continue reading

13th December 2016 · 1 Comment

Bobby Fischer’s My 60 Memorable Games

The great chess players of the past are fascinating characters. Even if long dead and with an afterlife only of algebraic notation, they can impose themselves upon our imagination still. … Continue reading

12th December 2016 · 1 Comment

Julian MacLaren-Ross: Squandered Daylight, Neon-moonlight

JULIAN MacLAREN-ROSS (1912-1964) delineated with brilliance and acuity the sleazy bohemian atmosphere of post-war Soho through a series of amusing short stories and eight novels. His writing style is lively, … Continue reading

9th December 2016 · Leave a comment

Gerald Kersh Died with His Boots Unclean

One of the great chroniclers of London’s metropolitan life was the versatile GERALD KERSH (1911-1968), although he came to settle in Barbados (where his house burnt down), then Canada, and in … Continue reading

6th December 2016 · Leave a comment

Hans Fallada & Despair at Brookfield Farm

HANS FALLADA was published by Melville House only in 2009, Penguin thereafter (translated by Michael Hofmann), so he is a recent invention in the English-speaking world, and a surprising commercial … Continue reading

4th December 2016 · Leave a comment

Colin MacInnes & London’s Jazz Age

Colin MacInnes, who died in 1976, is a fascinating novelist. He identified both the rise of the rebel teenage generation and an emergent multicultural London. He was openly gay at … Continue reading

1st December 2016 · Leave a comment

Onanism Fleshed Out: Dan Holloway’s Evie and Guy

I so often go on and about Dan Holloway’s onanistic novel Evie and Guy, and am pleased to have heard that Dan is preparing a second edition. It is a … Continue reading

30th November 2016 · Leave a comment

Matchbox Stories from Book Ex Machina

In stock is the tiniest literary magazine in the world: Matchbox Stories from Book Ex Machina, an original publishing initiative from a writer and photographer in Cyprus. Each issue is a … Continue reading

27th October 2016 · Leave a comment

Judge a Book by its Cover

The earliest surviving dust jacket dates from 1833: a plain buff-coloured paper with the title overprinted in red. In the twentieth century the potential for the dust jacket as a … Continue reading

24th October 2016 · Leave a comment

The Shop Corner of Shame

The latest book in the shop Corner of Shame – that is the resting place for books rejected by customers because considered too expensive – is The Death and Letters … Continue reading

19th October 2016 · Leave a comment

Malcolm Saville’s Yard Broom

Malcolm Saville was born in Hastings in 1901 and educated there. His first job was as a clerk with the Oxford University Press, and the rest of his working life … Continue reading

10th October 2016 · Leave a comment

Three Doorbells in Search of a Door

It took an act of generosity from a Portuguese friend to deliver the rooster, an ornament as fine as a Botticelli angel. But it took my brilliance with a drill to … Continue reading

9th October 2016 · 2 Comments

Ten Books to Make You See a Big Picture

This selection is made from the Albion Beatnik Press’ book Fifty Shades of Re(a)d (an attempt to curate a vital book collection). These books attempt to take us outside of … Continue reading

22nd August 2016 · Leave a comment

The Bodleian Library

The Bodleian Library was refurnished by 1613, and the Old Schools Quadrangle extension was already under serious planning – to be measured in cubits rather than feet and inches, based on … Continue reading

11th May 2016 · Leave a comment

Four Books to Visit a Shrink with

The book cover designs by Oxford based artist Stella Shakerchi for four of the titles from the forthcoming Oxfordshire Art Weeks exhibition (from 7th May), 50 Shades of Re(a)d, with … Continue reading

5th May 2016 · Leave a comment

Fifty Shades of Re(a)d

It was Oxford based artist Stella Shakerchi who came up with the idea of hanging a collection of book cover design in the Albion Beatnik Bookstore windows, and the shop … Continue reading

1st May 2016 · Leave a comment

This Is A Bookshop

The poster found often in the shop window did for a few golden days go viral and rampant on the internet. Its tale is told here by Dan Holloway in … Continue reading

27th April 2016 · Leave a comment

The New Yorker

HISTORY The creation of The New Yorker is a true case of necessity being the mother of invention. In the early 1920s, a New York couple – Harold Ross and … Continue reading

8th January 2016 · Leave a comment

Recommended Graphic Novels

Persepolis [2003] MARJANE SATRAPI This is the story of a young girl growing up in Iran. Illustrated by Satrapi’s deceptively simple and yet wonderfully expressive drawings, it is a fascinating coming … Continue reading

6th January 2016 · Leave a comment

The Sandspout

The bookstore will launch its own magazine, entitled The Sandspout (although the title will be in small print as I’m quite ashamed of it.). A Sandspout is the sand sucked into … Continue reading

4th January 2016 · Leave a comment

Recommended Historical Novels for Children

Historical fiction is a fabulous genre. It allows us all to empathise with someone from a different time with whom we would otherwise have no connection. It can illustrate historical points … Continue reading

3rd January 2016 · Leave a comment

Great Children’s Novels with Great Sequels

Books with sequels are ideal recommendations for children: if they are enjoyed, the quieter they are for longer. Here is a random selection:- The Borrowers by Mary Norton Mary Norton (1903-1992) … Continue reading

3rd January 2016 · 2 Comments

A Straight Line to Joy: a Choice of Jazz Books

There are only a few writers who are able to write well and with authority on all aspects of jazz. Philip Larkin pleaded for a “belle-lettriste of jazz, a Newman … Continue reading

2nd January 2016 · Leave a comment

Is There Anything to Read after Harry Potter?

It was often alleged that the craze for Harry Potter books throughout the 1990s fuelled an awakening in the art of reading. I was doubtful at the time, even more … Continue reading

2nd January 2016 · Leave a comment

Novels Set in Oxford

This is a non-alphabetical list of novels set in Oxford, not necessarily recommended as some are a little bit toffee-nosed and derelict, but all are well regarded and all are … Continue reading

19th December 2015 · 2 Comments

A Love Affair with Libraries

Quite a few times on the internet recently I have stumbled across a collection of startling photographs taken of old Cincinnati Public Library, bulldozed in 1955: greyscale, razor sharp images of silhouetted and … Continue reading

20th November 2015 · 1 Comment

The Discordant Who? Atzmon and Debate

I read the other day that Gilad Atzmon’s book The Wandering Who? has been taken off the virtual shelves of the Guardian book web site. My first reaction was to be … Continue reading

28th February 2015 · 2 Comments

London Novelists 1930-1960

PATRICK HAMILTON’s father was a barrister, but an inheritance altered his perspective – drink, travel and mistresses then took precedence, his wife and three children ignored. When Patrick was twelve, … Continue reading

24th February 2015 · Leave a comment

The Scottish Renaissance: Salt in Your Porridge, a Sporin and a Scottish Accent

The early part of the twentieth century witnessed a growing cultural self-awareness in many places. The Harlem Renaissance explored black culture and radiated around urban America from its base in … Continue reading

23rd February 2015 · Leave a comment

Lists Galore: 1/ Favourite American Novels of the Early Twentieth Century

To make the autodidact completely at home in the Albion Beatnik, here’s a pointless list of twentieth century American novels we think you should have read. Sometimes they are even on … Continue reading

23rd February 2015 · Leave a comment

Anna Kavan: Addicted and Addictive

ANNA KAVAN was born Helen Emily Woods in 1901 in Cannes, France, and was raised and educated in Europe and California. Her wealthy English parents were cold and displayed scant … Continue reading

23rd February 2015 · Leave a comment

Anais Nin and Henry Miller: Compendium of American Sexual Neuroses

ANAIS NIN was born in France, although when she was eleven her father, a Catalan composer, deserted the family and her Danish mother took the three children to America – it … Continue reading

23rd February 2015 · Leave a comment

The Beat Generation

As with many movements, the BEAT GENERATION began with a few like-minded friends, in this case writers Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, and Gregory Corso. Although they were sometimes … Continue reading

23rd February 2015 · Leave a comment