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Dastgah: Diary of a Headtrip

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About the Author

MARK MORDUE is a writer, journalist, and editor. His work has been published in Interview, Madison, Speak, The Nation, and Salon in the U.S., as well as Rolling Stone, Vogue, GQ, The Australian, and Sydney Morning Herald in Australia. Mordue is the winner of a 1992 Human Rights Media Award, and from 1992 to 1997 he was the founding editor of Australia's leading pop culture magazine, Australian Style.


Keeping a diary is de rigeur for many young Aussies as they venture overseas for the first time. Mark Mordue, at 38, was somewhat older than the average first-time traveller, and, as an established journalist, his travel diary is a much more memorable read than many a gung-ho novice might produce. This book, like the elaborate form of traditional Iranian music it is named after, moves through tempos and moods - poignancy, humour, fear and excitement. Mordue is an intrepid traveller; not for him a polite tour of European museums; instead he roams through India, Nepal, Turkey and Iran amid sojourns in Paris, London and New York. This is a highly impressionistic work, rather than a start-to-finish travelogue. Mordue observes and absorbs - many of his most memorable passages record colours, light and shadows, emotions, incidental details. At times Mordue finds little positive to say about his fellow travellers, but his observations of Iran, to which the greatest portion of the book is devoted, are sympathetic and astute. This is a compelling read - part rock lyric, part love poem, part road novel - and it should be required reading for those who seek to vilify the entire Muslim world in the wake of recent horrific events in America. William Gourlay is a Melbourne writer and editor. C. 2001 Thorpe-Bowker and contributors

I JUST TOOK A TRIP around the world in one go, first zigzagging my way through this incredible book, and finally, almost feverishly, making sure I hadn't missed out on a chapter along the way. I'm not sure what I'd call it now: A road movie of the mind, a diary, a love story, a new version of the subterranean homesick and wanderlust blues -- anyway, it's a great ride. Paul Bowles and Kerouac are in the back, and Mark Mordue has taken over the wheel of that pickup truck from Bruce Chatwin, who's dozing in the passenger seat. --WIM WENDERS, director of Paris, Texas; Wings of Desire; and The Buena Vista Social Club.

WIDE-AWAKE AND SENSUOUSLY LYRICAL, Mark Mordue's Dastgah gets in behind the shell of the familiar, reminding us that the world is vast and strange and that everything is -- in case we've forgotten -- happening for the first time. --SVEN BIRKERTS, editor of AGNI and author of My Sky Blue Trades: Growing Up Counter in a Contrary Time

AN EXTRAORDINARY AND DAZZLING VOYAGE across continents and into the mind. Mordue's book is almost impossible to summarize -- reportage, reflection and poetry are all conjured onto the page as he grapples with the state of the world and his place in it. --GILES MILTON, author of Nathaniel's Nutmeg: Or, the True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader Who Changed the Course of History

A lovely, fascinating book. --DAVID ALMOND, author of The Fire-Eaters and 2003 Whitbread Award Winner

METICULOUSLY ASSEMBLED... Mordue has elevated Dastgah beyond the realms of the traditional travelogue by sharing not only what he learned about cultures he visited, but also his brutally honest self-discoveries. --ELLE

A LOVELY IMPRESSIONISTIC BOOK... idiosyncratic, entertaining, vulnerable and unpretentious ... Mordue skitters between worlds, not sparing his readers the contrast. --NEWSWEEK

DASTGAH IS MUCH MORE about what it means to be a traveler than a travel book. This is brave writing, unafraid to open itself to awkward emotions with honesty and passion. --MARIE CLAIRE

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