Tripping the World Fantastic by Glenn Dixon
Available at Polar Peek Books & Treasures in Fernie.- Reviewed by Angie Abdou for The Fernie Fix’s March 2014 Issue
My goodness the Fernie Heritage Library is an exciting place these days! In recent months, we’ve had a steady parade of talented and creative and brilliant writers come share their stories with us. Get ready for another one on April 3 at 7pm.
Glenn Dixon has a job many people dream of: he travels the world and writes books about his adventures. In the past few years, Glenn has been to Africa, India, Russia, Tahiti and Bali… and that barely scratches the surface. His two books – Pilgrim in the Palace of Words and Tripping the World Fantastic – share some of the insights of his wide travel and extensive research. Glenn Dixon is a fascinating guy living a fascinating life. Don’t miss this chance to meet him in person. Here I am in conversation with Glenn:
Q: When I first met you and we belonged to the same writing group, you were working on fiction. What inspired your move to nonfiction travel writing?
Glenn: I’d actually done a lot of travel writing for magazines and newspapers early in my writing career. I thought I’d be a novelist but when a literary agent suggested I do a travel book, well, I was a bit surprised that I hadn’t thought of that myself. I paired that with an interest in languages (I’d done an M.A. in languages) and my first book – Pilgrim in the Palace of Words – happened fairly quickly after that. Still, I’d like to get back to writing a novel someday. Some day.
Q: Travel writing is a dream job for many people. You definitely lead an enviable life full of adventure. What is the most exciting place you’ve travelled to and written about?
Glenn: There are two that really stand out amongst the 70 odd countries I’ve been to. First of all, a trip I took into the deep Amazon where I stayed with a people – the Achuar – who had only been “discovered” about twenty years before (I always put discovered here in quotations – they knew they existed). They were only one generation into contact with the outside world and that was pretty remarkable. The second, and probably the most memorable trip I ever took was up over the Himalayas and into Tibet. It was like going back in time 500 years. I visited ancient monasteries, saw the palace of the Dalai Lama (though he hasn’t been there for 50 years), saw Mount Everest from the other side and circled the Jokhang temple with tiny wizened Buddhist monks. That one still seems like a dream.
Q: In your most recent book, you combine your love of writing, your love of music, and your love of travel. I believe you were a musician before you were a writer. What led you from music to writing? What is the relationship between your musical life and your writing life? Are there similarities/differences in the way you practice, approach or feel about the two art forms – writing and music?
Glenn: Oh, I am basically a failed rock star. That’s all I wanted to be in my 20s. A drummer I played with went on to play in k.d. Lang’s band and a keyboardist I know now plays with Alice Cooper. I had no such luck. But I’d been writing anyway, and to me, an artist is an artist is an artist. Lots of us straddle different disciplines. And yes, there’s carry over in the creative process. Most of all, I suppose I would say that they are disciplines – they are hard work. I believe in that 10,000-hour thing. It takes a long, long time and a very focused effort to become anywhere near half decent, which is maybe why I didn’t make it as a musician.
Q: The obligatory goofy question (I get one!) – What three songs would you choose as the soundtrack for your written work?
Glenn: Ha. Anything by Bob Marley first of all. I got to visit his gravesite in the hills of Jamaica for this last book – but I heard his music almost everywhere I went around the world. He is truly ubiquitous. Then, maybe the Beatles – they influenced me musically more than anything else (blowing away my little 10 year old mind once upon a time) and, well, this might sound pompous – but Beethoven. Ninth symphony, third movement, if you want to be precise. That for me is the single greatest piece of music ever written and I also wrote about that in my last book. I went to Vienna and I spent some time in one of Beethoven’s apartments – the one where he wrote the fifth symphony. It was like a holy experience for me.
Come meet Glenn and hear more about his traveling adventures and his books at the Fernie Heritage Library on April 3 at 7pm. Free. Everyone welcome!