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.

Cornish Postcards

I have a feeling that wherever I go, whatever I do, the same questions will be asked of me: ‘Are you open?’, ‘Do you have a loo?’, ‘Do you have … Continue reading

16th October 2017 · Leave a comment

Leafology, Dynamite & Richard Nixon

The Leafology beauty product range is my latest sales product here and is an attempt to go commercially peripheral. It’s a range of beauty product that includes body care, lip … Continue reading

26th September 2017 · Leave a comment

Oxford Review of Books

At only £3, the first issue of the excellent (termly) Oxford Review of Books is a bargain and available here in the Bookstore. The newspaper is formatted as the London … Continue reading

19th September 2017 · Leave a comment

Ungaretti’s Typewriter

A new addition to the Beatnik landscape: Ungaretti’s Typewriter. Customers (all two of them) are invited to type any random thought, flow of consciousness dribble, abstract or recited prose or … Continue reading

19th September 2017 · Leave a comment

Homily to Keith Jarrett

What Keith Jarrett plays on any concert evening is so often spellbinding. It needs to be to stand above his histrionic and hissy fit, hypochondria, grunts, Gurdjieff philosophy and Garbarek … Continue reading

8th September 2017 · 1 Comment

Romanian Postcards

Not only has Romania moved tectonically since my childhood days (it never used to be next to the Ukraine in my school atlas), its spelling has changed: we used to … Continue reading

26th August 2017 · 1 Comment

Toilets (or J. Alfred Pisspot)

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock hangs on the inside of the shop toilet door. It would be included in any anthology of poetry read best in the loo and, … Continue reading

26th August 2017 · Leave a comment

Heathcote Williams: The Local Polemic

Painted fluorescent over two walls of the Albion Beatnik loo is Heathcote Williams’ poem ‘Books’. The poem was written perhaps eight or nine years ago. Heathcote Williams died recently, undoubtedly … Continue reading

23rd August 2017 · Leave a comment

Parliamentary Filibuster & an Experimental Novel

Published today by the Albion Beatnik Press is Ilia Galán’s novel All: 111 pages, and 31,113 words (31,107 are the same word). Its original Spanish publication in 2004 caused a … Continue reading

30th July 2017 · Leave a comment

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

Siciliano, Spirituality & Saccharin

The mid-twentieth century vogue for transcribing Bach chorales or instrumentals for the piano was a meeting point of nostalgia and aspiration, perhaps sounding boards to reflect hope against the political … Continue reading

30th June 2017 · Leave a comment

Sunrise at Wittenham Clumps

I spent the night on the Round Hill at Wittenham Clumps to catch sunrise, fortified by a fire, tea, and the best company. Paul Nash described the view from The … Continue reading

26th June 2017 · 3 Comments

All What Larkin by Peter J. King

Published today is Peter J. King’s new poetry pamphlet, All What Larkin, published by the Albion Beatnik Press. Philip Larkin wrote jazz criticism for the Daily Telegraph for ten years … Continue reading

14th June 2017 · Leave a comment

Machiavellian Eisteddfod, Acetate Gold & Death by Corn Flakes

The Oxford Silent Film Society has had regular and mesmerising screenings in the Beatnik. All of the films have been of interest historically, although some nearly as dull as lukewarm ditchwater … Continue reading

9th June 2017 · Leave a comment

The Fabrications by Baret Magarian

[https://youtu.be/1XrbTqiQGcg, The Mighty Boosh innit] So Howard Moon says it’s more about quality than quantity in the modern novel. For sure, but I can’t think of too many exciting novels … Continue reading

7th June 2017 · Leave a comment

Everything Wrong With You Is Beautiful

I’ve always liked Tina Sederholm’s poetry. There is a plumb line weighted with honesty that cuts through it, and she probes either side of its divide. Her whole craft is … Continue reading

3rd 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

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

Fettled Hands: You Can Call Me Hal

Pianists each have a distinct touch and each have fettled hands. My pick of the best is displayed below. Dinu Lipatti could stretch an octave and five, brittle and perfect, fluttered his fingers … Continue reading

6th January 2017 · Leave a comment

Catgut & Chopsticks: Chris Garrick & David Gordon

The Bookstore is christened the Beatnik because of Kerouac and Ginsberg’s association with jazz. The shop has a wholesale stash of jazz literature, a wonderful jazz CD cupboard painted (in fact on both … Continue reading

5th 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

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

The Limits of Nostalgia

I went to Brighton recently, not a first call for bucket and spade for it’s all shingle and, this time of year, freezing cold. In my childhood, news consisted of Francis … Continue reading

28th 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

A One-Night Stand with Erroll Garner

I am reminded by the recent release of lost studio takes by Erroll Garner, Ready Take One, that my eyes have been thrown always to the heavens with wonderment at … Continue reading

28th September 2016 · 1 Comment

Spiritual Synaesthesia: John Coltrane at Ninety

In a brief and urgent career, John Coltrane transformed jazz and became a beacon for much else; he died aged only forty in 1967. A spiritual awakening in 1957 removed from him … Continue reading

25th September 2016 · Leave a comment

She’s Leaving Home

She’s Leaving Home on the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper album is one of the more sublime and yet sorrowful songs in their catalogue. Like Eleanor Rigby from the earlier Revolver LP it did not include any … Continue reading

13th September 2016 · Leave a comment

Salzburg: Mozart & Lot’s Wife

Salzburg on a clear day is an impressive city to fly into. The city is stockaded by mountains, mainly southward, but when the stockade appears to consist of both mountain and … Continue reading

9th September 2016 · Leave a comment

Buy One Get One Free

This decade’s Beatnik BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free) offer: a cup of tea, a free piddle, in any order. All for £2. Usually over seventy types of tea, loose leaf mainly. … Continue reading

2nd September 2016 · Leave a comment

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

Arthur Does Casablanca

Arthur, a finalist in last year’s Canine Halitosis World Championship, stumbled through my life again for two weeks this summer. His boundless lackadaisical posture, his turbulent sangfroid nature and his … Continue reading

22nd August 2016 · Leave a comment

Miles and Muhammad Ali: the Momentum of the Moment

The personas of Miles Davis and Muhammad Ali have fascinated the world always. Both men are iconic: you would expect to see them in any poster shop in any far-flung corner of the world … Continue reading

1st August 2016 · Leave a comment

Miles, Boxing & Jack Johnson

“Boxing’s got style like music’s got style,” said Miles Davis. “Joe Louis had a style… and Sugar Ray Robinson had his style – as did Muhammad Ali… But you’ve got … Continue reading

31st July 2016 · Leave a comment

A Privy Culprit of Poetry Readings

What is the collective noun for poets? I was asked that recently and was rather stumped for an answer. It’s been like Radio 4’s Any Questions recently, and not so … Continue reading

5th June 2016 · Leave a comment

Patrick Mackie & John Clegg: poetry reading, 10th June

PATRICK MACKIE lives in Gloucestershire. Recently published by CBeditions is The Further Adventures of the Lives of the Saints; an earlier collection, Excerpts From the Memoirs Of A Fool, was published … Continue reading

18th May 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

Not The Oxford Literary Festival (Rides Again) 2016

Coincidentally simultaneous with the Oxford Literary Festival™ (sponsored this year by The Financial Times and well known philanthropists HSBC), the Not The Oxford Literary Festival™ (see tailpiece for our very … Continue reading

27th March 2016 · Leave a comment