Mapping Tangier’s Literary World

TALIM Josh Shoemake signingAs Josh Shoemake puts it, his book started off as a map.

Landing in Morocco as a young English teacher at the American School of Tangier, he started plotting the haunts of the city's literary greats as a way of keeping track of their references.  He even provides an electronic version of his map (you have to drill down, but there's lots of good detail).

Josh, appropriately seated among the Legation's collection of ancient maps, regaled the audience last weekend with many of these details that he so well illustrates in his book.  We were treated to anecdotes about some of the eccentrics that made Tangier such a draw, and continues to do so.

Who now remembers Alfred Chester and his wig?  We thought we knew a thing or two about the American writers who gravitated to Tangier, many coming to visit Paul Bowles.  But Alfred Chester was news – mostly forgotten here it must be said.

I had read and reviewed Josh's book earlier this year, but it was great to listen to this born storyteller recount some of the best.  Josh shares my weakness for tales of the weird from the Legation, and with upwards of two centuries to work with, there is plenty there, including Crazy Consuls shooting at their replacements.

With his canny crafting of a literary guide for travelers, Josh Shoemake has written a book that is likely to last, and will provide many a cultural tourist with plenty of material for Tangier exploration.

Gerald Loftus; photo courtesy Sandra Shoemake Zwollo

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