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

The web and blog 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.

Father & Son

Compared to the likes of Bob Dylan, Carole King, Billy Joel and many other Americans – whose lyrics followed dramatically the contours of the melody and effortlessly displayed an emotional … Continue reading

February 15, 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

January 8, 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

January 6, 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

January 4, 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

January 3, 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

January 3, 2016 · 1 Comment

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

January 2, 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

January 2, 2016 · Leave a comment

In Search of Dinu Lipatti

DINU LIPATTI was a Romanian pianist who died in 1950 at the tragically early age of 33, when he succumbed to complication arising from Hodgkins’ lymphoma. Yet for all its brevity … Continue reading

January 2, 2016 · Leave a comment

An Introduction to Charles Mingus, the Angry Man of Jazz

“He got so heavy that the bass was something he just slung over his shoulder like a duffel bag, hardly noticing the weight. The bigger he got, the smaller the … Continue reading

December 22, 2015 · 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

December 19, 2015 · 2 Comments

From Straight Lines We Make Curves… An Appreciation of Michael Garrick

English jazz pianist and composer MICHAEL GARRICK, a pioneer in mixing jazz with poetry recitations and large-scale choral works, died in November 2011. For the non-cognoscente his compositions could be overly complex, … Continue reading

December 18, 2015 · Leave a comment

Books for Christmas

A book is a wonderful gift because it incorporates both the intent and a flavour of the giver as well as, hopefully, the character and purpose of its recipient. The giver … Continue reading

December 15, 2015 · Leave a comment

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

November 20, 2015 · 1 Comment

Zizek and the Art of Powder Room Publicity

A special offer for the year ahead, to flush away chic and incontinent communism: a free loo roll given away with every volume of Zizek bought throughout 2016. Zizek is … Continue reading

November 19, 2015 · 2 Comments

The Jazz Etiquette

Alternate Wednesday in term time, the likes of Gilad Atzmon, John Etheridge, Alan Barnes, Tim Whitehead and Chris Garrick play here. The shop space is quite a groovy atmosphere, lights turned low, … Continue reading

November 17, 2015 · 1 Comment

Maybe I’m Amazed

Here is the finest of Paul McCartney’s songs, the highlight of the album released to announce formally the break-up of the Beatles, the eponymous McCartney, the song of course being Maybe I’m Amazed; … Continue reading

November 15, 2015 · Leave a comment

Christopher Wren in Oxford

I think that Christopher Wren was a bit of a donkey aesthetically, an opinion likely to raise eyebrows. In the late seventeenth century most architectural roads led to Wren; he hovers … Continue reading

November 12, 2015 · Leave a comment

Miles as Engine Driver

Miles Davis battled various physical ailments throughout the last twenty years of his life until his death in 1991. He had spent five years sidelined in the late 1970s, holed up … Continue reading

November 10, 2015 · Leave a comment

The People’s Favourite Hamburger

In the Romanian mountains not so long ago I stopped at the roadside to taste melons the size of Goliath’s testicles and wild red berries sold by peasants. Then at table … Continue reading

September 21, 2015 · Leave a comment

Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli: Hobnail Boots and Angel’s Slippers

ARTURO BENEDETTI MICHELANGELI was notorious more for cancelling his own concerts than attending them, or for driving his Ferrari cars in the Mille Miglia road race rather than working in the recording studio. … Continue reading

August 18, 2015 · Leave a comment

A History That Dare Not Speak Its Name

This Tuesday, 9th June at 7:30pm, Nicholas Kollerstrom will be talking in the Albion Beatnik. Nicholas was an honorary research fellow in the history and philosophy of science at University … Continue reading

June 8, 2015 · 1 Comment

Albion Beatnik Events: May 2015

Some events over the next month to which all are invited: Friday 1st May 8:00pm JAZZ OxJaMS Trio CD launch: George Haslam, Richard Leigh Harris and Steve Kershaw present their new CD … Continue reading

May 1, 2015 · Leave a 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

February 28, 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

February 24, 2015 · Leave a comment

Louis Armstrong: “The Beginning and End of Music in America.”

LOUIS ARMSTRONG transformed jazz in the 1920s and gave it a direction and purpose. He remains one of its most important figures, changing the nature of soloist and ensemble. He … Continue reading

February 23, 2015 · Leave a comment

Spot the Difference Between a Bookshop and Nostalgia (Not Everyone Can!)

http://www.cherwell.org/…/we-should-stop-fetishising-indepe… is one student journalist’s take on Oxford’s small bookshops… Lily is bright (and groovy): bookshops have been fetishised into a commercial vacuum and have become part of the National Trust’s … Continue reading

February 23, 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

February 23, 2015 · Leave a comment

Under an English Heaven: Michael Garrick’s Jazz Praises

MICHAEL GARRICK’s Jazz Praises, composed in the 1960s, is a unique creation. Critic Derek Jewell endorsed it enthusiastically in The Sunday Times and it was broadcast on both television and radio. It … Continue reading

February 23, 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

February 23, 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

February 23, 2015 · Leave a comment

A Chameleon Chasing an Audience: the Musical Life of Miles Davis

“I’m always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning . . . Every day I find something creative to do with my life.” Born in 1926, … Continue reading

February 23, 2015 · Leave a comment

The Legend of St Elmo: Elmo Hope and Bebop Piano

ELMO HOPE is seemingly a forgotten pianist of the bebop era. His unfulfilled musical life tells us much about the jazz experience of 1950s America, but much more about the … Continue reading

February 23, 2015 · Leave a comment

Joe Harriott: Fire in His Soul

JOE HARRIOTT is no longer a forgotten father figure of modern European jazz. An excellent new biography of this seeringly brilliant and individual saxophonist has been published… Since his death in … Continue reading

February 23, 2015 · 1 Comment

Interview with Verushka Byrow on the Australian Book Site editingeverything.com

The link for this interview is: http://editingeverything.com/interviews2/the-albion-beatnik-bookstore-interview/ VERUSHKA: The dictionary tells me that a beatnik is a usually young and artistic person from the 1950s and early 1960s who rejected the … Continue reading

February 23, 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

February 23, 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

February 23, 2015 · Leave a comment

“Son, You Hot!” Hampton Hawes and the Fire Inside

HAMPTON HAWES (1928-1977) was one of the greatest jazz bebop pianists. But at the summit of his career, celebrated as New Star of the Year by Down Beat magazine in 1956, … Continue reading

February 23, 2015 · Leave a comment

A Bookseller’s Pompous Manifesto

Publisher John Murray wrote in 1842 that “I am very sorry to say that the publishing of books at this time involves nothing but loss.” The plights of publishing and … Continue reading

February 23, 2015 · Leave a comment