The Hippie Trail: A History by Sharif Gemie and Brian Ireland is a rollicking and riveting read, chock-full of vivid anecdotes and insights. It is perfect for armchair travellers dreaming of happier times. How gentrified and commodified the world seems today!
“You can’t trust anybody who’s wearing a tie,” Jefferson Airplane
Gemie travelled the trail himself – so he has a lived experience of the journey, not an escapist fantasy. He and his co-author appraise the broader social and political context, alongside the psychological and cultural worlds of the famously hirsute travellers. The resulting narrative is a blend of analysis and dialogues with eighty authors and interviewees who went on the trail in the late 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s on a quest for adventure, spirituality and escape from monotony, ending up – though not always – in Nepal. By the 1970s, Kathmandu was known as “the Benidorm of the dope trail”. (p. 104)
December: a time of merry abandon, or seasonal reflection? Our round up of eclectic reads to delight and inspire you takes in both . . . Happy Christmas! Georgia @bookblast
Black swans, white cygnets
Behind the Scenes at the Ballets Russes: Stories from a Silver Ageby Michael Meylac (Ed.) translated by Rosanna Kelly (I. B. Tauris) illustrated with over 70 B/W photographs buy here
The Ballets Russes remains the most iconic ballet company of the twentieth century. Its dancers Nijinksy, Karsavina and Pavlova have become the stuff of legend. Inspired by the unique vision of the touring company’s founder, Sergei Diaghilev; the artistry of stage designer Alexandre Benois; and the spectacular costumes created by Bakst, the company gained a large international following. The list of Diaghilev’s artistic collaborators are a roll-call of some of the 20th-century’s greatest composers and artists: Stravinsky, Ravel, Satie, Poulenc, de Falla, Picasso, Matisse, Miró, de Chirico – to name but a few.Continue reading BookBlasts® | Top 10 Reads for Independent Minds | December 2017
BookBlast® reviews Writers, Lovers, Soldiers, Spies: A History of the Authors’ Club of London 1891-2016.
“The history of the Authors’ Club is studded with famous names: Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas Hardy, Rider Haggard, Ford Madox Ford, Graham Greene. Yet in the course of writing this history, I have learned that life, the culture, and often the very survival of the club have depended on others who are not so well remembered today. A healthy literary culture is not sustained by a handful of greats alone; it requires a significant number of dedicated, skilful practitioners who may not achieve critical accolade or vast commercial success yet persist in writing worthwhile, interesting books.” C J Schüler
Founded in July 1891, the aim being to “advance the cause of Letters”, the Authors’ Club was originally the social arm of the Society of Authors; admitting journalists, editors, men of science, dramatists and academics, and not only the writers of books. “While many clubs, including the Athenaeum and the Savile, had a number of literary figures among their numbers, none was specifically aimed at them. For an example of what he was trying to achieve, Walter Besant had to look across the Atlantic to New York, where an Authors’ Club had been founded in 1882, and included Mark Twain, Theodore Roosevelt and Andrew Carnegie among its members.” The Copyright act had just been passed, allowing British authors to receive royalties on American sales of their work. At the club’s inaugural dinner, Oscar Wilde raged at the Lord Chamberlain’s inspector censoring his new play, Salomé, with Sarah Bernhardt in the lead role.