In Just Go Down to the Road writer and editor James Campbell recounts his early years as a juvenile delinquent (arrested for stealing books!) and his time traveling the world in the 1960s and seventies. Born and raised in Glasgow in a middle-class family, Campbell early turned against school. He writes that his parents made his childhood very happy, yet in adolescence he made everyone around him very unhappy.
Forced to drop out of school at age fifteen, he apprenticed as a printer’s assistant in a Dickensian-like factory in a poor part of Glasgow. After three years, he threw it off and went “on the road,” traveling through Europe, the Near East, and North Africa, mostly by thumb. On a Greek island, he was hired to take tourists around on horseback, though he’d never ridden before. On an Israeli kibbutz, he played music with Peter Green, the lead guitarist of Fleetwood Mac. After a couple years of this vagabondage and finding himself sleeping in a hallway with nine others, he scraped together enough money to return to Scotland.
Back in Glasgow, Campbell’s buried intellectual instincts began to surface. Long a reader and writer, he started working for local magazines which led to lucky encounters with well-known authors including John Fowles and James Baldwin. Just Go Down to the Road ends as Campbell gets his first book deal and steady job, finally finding his place in the world of literature after an unlikely start.
PRAISE FOR JAMES CAMPBELL'S OTHER BOOKS:
"A life-sized portrait in very broad strokes . . . A lively book that is immensely readable, serious, careful, and informed."―Boston Globe on Talking at the Gates: A Life of James Baldwin
"A marvelously illuminating literary biography . . . [and] an affectionate yet critical portrait."―Publishers Weekly on Talking at the Gates: A Life of James Baldwin
"[A] brilliantly sympathetic and compelling analysis of the Beat phenomenon."―The Guardian on This Is the Beat Generation
“Campbell is a critic, to twist Henry James’s words, upon whom few writers are lost.”―New York Magazine on Syncopations
"A witty and insightful look at a fascinating, romantic land by a native son."―Library Journal on Invisible Country
James Campbell was born in Glasgow. Between 1978 and 1982, he was the editor of the New Edinburgh Review. His books include Invisible Country: A Journey through Scotland (1984), Gate Fever: Voices from a Prison (1986), Talking at the Gates: A Life of James Baldwin (1991), and a collection of essays, Syncopations (2007). For many years he was an editor and columnist at the Times Literary Supplement. He lives in London.