Saturday 22 October 2011

Trippers - William J Booker

Over the next few months, I plan to highlight some exciting new authors I have discovered online, published by small press or self-published.

The first author I’d like to introduce is William J Booker, author of the 1971 popular culture book ‘Trippers’. I first read a sample on Authonomy and knew I just had to buy it.

My Review:

Trippers is a profound and important book about the life-changing experience taking place in the life of Bill Booker and his friends over a period of two weeks in the summer of 1971. The writing is beautiful and of its time. Beginning in Leicester, Bill reaches a turning point in his life as he questions his existence and the pure futility of living until he alights on the idea of a journey as a passport out of the gloom and depression of Leicester. The book is peppered with nostalgic references, infusing deeper significance to those of us of a certain generation: Ted Heath, power cuts, Double Barrel, Spirit In The Sky, Reefer jackets. Bill gravitates towards a new crowd of like-minded, mind-expanding, enlightenment-seekers who listen to the soundtracks of the time - Cream, Captain Beefheart and Pink Floyd - while imbibing certain mind-altering substances. Bill's travelling companions and fellow trippers, Ray, Jake and Syd are vividly described, the 'tripping' of course not only referring to their planned trip to Weymouth, perhaps an unlikely destination for enlightenment, but also to the psychedelic substances they ingest before they hit the road and during their time away. The reality of living cheek-by-jowl with fellow travellers is beautifully observed and with plenty of wry humour as we get a more in-depth portrayal of the characters, their complexities, their vulnerabilities, even their personal hygiene problems (Ray's foot odour problem for one!) as their shared experience of tripping bonds them. Egg and chips provide fuel for the boys wherever they travel, but even the fried eggs, sunny side up, become a metaphor for something deeper (if only I liked fried eggs). There are great discussions aplenty and some very eerie experiences when they are tripping, like the walk in the dark back to the campsite, but the whole `trip' to Weymouth provides the catalyst for the meaning of life, and a new self-confidence and fearlessness in Bill as he embraces the philosophy of Tim Leary: Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out. But more than this, Bill's quest and understanding about light, love, and oneness, is like reading one of those books about Buddhist experiences and the connectedness of all existence, leaving one with a sense of awe and positivity.

William, or Bill as he is known to his friends, is only in touch with one of the 'trippers' now, two of them having sadly died since. Trippers is meant to be a stand alone book, not part of a series or to have a sequel.  I wondered how he would follow such a book, whether it would be possible.

Bill tells me he has been working on an idea for a mystery thriller, though he thinks it would be a tiny fish in a big pond compared to Trippers, which has a good niche. “It would be something like a cross between Robert Goddard and Simon McKernick, but there are so many about and even some established authors are having their work turned down. It has to be something really fresh and original as well as extremely well-written and even then it's hard to promote a mainstream novel without a sizeable budget to force its presence on the potential readership. Having said the above, if we believe we have something worthwhile, we should do it!"  Bill also has three unfinished novels and several short stories that he’s never attempted to publish, so he has no shortage of material and new ideas. 

Bill divides his time between writing and graphic design. He also enjoys reading, photography and walking.  

Book trailer for Trippers.

Trippers can be purchased from Amazon and other online stores and all good booksellers.  It has been very well-reviewed, all of them 5 star.

More about William J Booker and Trippers can be found at his website: