Category Archives: Writer

Alastair Borthwick, Great in War and Writing

Alastair Borthwick grew up in Troon. He studied at Glasgow and left when he was sixteen. Alastair started working for the Evening Times as a copytaker. After some time, he was employed by the Glasgow Weekly Herald which was smaller than the Evening Times. However, he was assigned better roles, and he wrote on various topics for the front page, children’s and the women’s pages. He was also tasked with creating the crossword.

Mr. Borthwick discovered rock climbing through writing for the Herald magazine. Rock climbing was an activity for the rich, but it started gaining popularity within the working-class and young people. Alastair started writing about the culture of hiking, and it became the main topic for his Open Air columns for the Heralds magazine. The knowledge he gained on rock climbing was incorporated in his first book, “Always a Little further.” In spite of his social status, Alastair associated with common people. He led a simple life.

The first book by Alastair Borthwick was based on the fun times he had when mountain climbing in the Scottish highlands. It was published in 1939. “Always a Little Further” captures the beginning of many movements including the grass-roots movement and the establishment of associations such as the national youth hostels association.

While author of the time wrote about the art of mountaineering and captured elites from well off families, Alastair described the personalities of the common folks, their challenges, and their hiking preferences.

His second novel, “Battalion” was based on the Second World War. He led an army into the war until the end of the Second World War. His experiences in war inspired him to write “Battalion.” For Alastair Borthwick, being in war was a great experience. Towards the end of the war, Colonel John Sym gave him a task of documenting the battalion. Finally, he was doing something he loved.

As the title of his first book suggests, Mr. Borthwick was always moving a little further in his life. Alastair’s books are important for history. One was written during an era of great social changes, and the other one was documenting the last days of the world war. Alastair Borthwick  is remembered as a talented broadcaster, journalist and a war historian.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Author, Writer

Doug Levitt and the Greyhound Diaries

In 2008, a war zone foreign correspondent for among others, CNN and MSNBC took his notebook and his acoustic guitar, and boarded a Greyhound bus to take to the road in an effort to get to know real people in America for whom this low point in our country’s economy were impacted the most, and worst. Doug Levitt interviewed other travelers, played on street corners, in bus terminals, and at city council meetings across the country, writing and strumming his special blend of folk-pop-rock music.

Levitt has logged in over 120,000 miles since then, having published his book written on the road, “The Greyhound Diaries” which is comprised of testimonials of people’s lives and the impact poverty, economic hard times, and social politics has had on them and their families. He walks in the footsteps of other social activists and artists, including Woody Guthrie and John Steinbeck.

He has performed at USC, Kennedy Center and countless homeless shelters, photographed thousands of people, and asked real questions of ordinary Americans. The result was a 212-page paperback book from North, South, East and Western areas of the country.

The Greyhound Diaries comes off to the reader as arresting, sometimes depressing, and definitely a grim cross-section of gender, race, creed, poverty levels, outliers, drug and alcohol abusers, and other artists of a kind, discussing along this “odyssey” of a journey on hard, plastic and sometimes tattered seats via fully-seated busses, taking off from city and small town terminals.

As a musician, there are several MP3, CD and live streaming opportunities to hear selected songs, written and performed by Levitt with titles such as:

Eastbound

Westbound

Fayetteville 3AM

Strongest Soul

In the Shadow of the City

Truck Drivers Road

Please

Ballad of the Sunrise Motel

Awake on Orchard Street

Shine

Way Stations

Tall Lights

Anywhere But Here

McClean, Virginia

Today

All of these are labeled EP for Extended Player, longer than a single but shorter than an album, usually between 4 and 6 tracks. EP versions of an artist’s creation is what the music industry defines as “used to raise awareness of their talent.”

Doug Levitt still takes to the road, taking notes, and still songwriting with an increased focus on being a voice for perhaps millions of Americans who travel by bus, fight to survive, and hopefully, find some peace along the ride. It might be called a road trip journal, as it includes his voice and style in the telling of fascinating stories from voices that, according to Levitt, need to be heard.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Poet, Writer