Joseph Ridgwell - a fictionalised account of episodes in the life of beat movement figure Ridgwell. The days of the neo-romantic counter culture are gone and the beat scene ain't what it was, but two young men set out to leave the rat race and its materialist culture behind and discover freedom and the wild side for themselves
Joe Ridgwell, Burrito Deluxe, Leamington Books, 2015.
The new novel from Joseph Ridgwell. 19 years since its original conception cult author Joseph Ridgwell has produced the road novel to end all road novels.
Burrito Deluxe is a fictionalised account of episodes in the life of beat movement figure Ridgwell. The days of the neo-romantic counter culture are gone and the beat scene ain't what it was, but two young men set out to leave the rat race and its materialist culture behind and discover freedom and the wild side for themselves.
Burrito Deluxe is an amazing novel of East End underworld escapades, thieving La Merced prostitutes, drug-fuelled trips to sacred Mayan temples, psychedelic peyote visions, hippy lifestyles, romantic liaisons, and the search for the legendary Lost Elation at the mystical Beach of the Dead.
Burrito Deluxe tells of drunkenness, East End underworld escapades, thieving La Merced prostitutes, drug-fuelled trips to sacred Mayan temples, psychedelic peyote visions, hippy lifestyles, romantic liaisons, and the search for the legendary Lost Elation at the mystical Beach of the Dead.
A study in pathological behaviour at close quarters, Burrito Deluxe is a Joseph Ridgwell special - the true story of two young men in search of freedom and adventure, but finding nothing but lies, dreams, insanity and death.
Have you ever wanted to disappear? To drop everything in the blink of an eye and escape? To start afresh in a new, exotic locale? To step out of the rat race once and for all and truly experience the endless possibilities that the world has to offer? – To hell with the soul sapping nine to five, to hell with all the hollow, plastic technology that you have surrounded yourself with, to hell with the trivialities and mundane existence of day to day life – I know I have and I am sure you have, too. And that is exactly what the two main characters in Burrito Deluxe decided to do, and they never looked back.
The hero of Burrito Deluxe is the eponymous Joseph Ridgwell, who along with his best mate Ronnie, decide to ditch their dead end life in the East End of London and hop on a flight bound for Mexico.
For many middle class youngsters growing up in the UK, a no expense spared trip around the Americas paid for by the bank of mummy and daddy is a common occurrence, but for two working class council estate kids things don’t come so easy. Joseph and Ronnie have to beg, borrow and quite literally steal to gather together the capital that will necessitate their dreams. Their plan is to get enough cash together to see them by for a year in Central and South America before moving on to Australia to find work and continue their adventure. Of course, things don’t quite go to plan and once in Mexico their excessive lust for partying and the never ending search for the Lost Elation means they are soon running out of cash. Queue more hair brain get rich quick schemes as they scratch and claw with fervent desperation to stay on the road, but to what lengths are they willing to go to to avoid going back home?
Anyone familiar with the previous work of Joseph Ridgwell will know exactly what to expect from Burrito Deluxe – a highly tuned and refined prose combined with excellent comic timing. The story zips along at break neck speed and you will find yourself laughing and crying from one page to the next. The character of Ronnie is an interesting one, the comparison of him being the Dean Moriarty to Joseph’s Sal Paradise is easy to make, but none the less an accurate one. Ronnie is very self assured, full of piss and vinegar, and the young Ridgwell will follow him to the end of the world. However, by the end of the novel you get the feeling that the characters have both evolved and that they are no longer necessarily heading down the same path.
Burrito Deluxe is a highly entertaining road novel that will at the very least leave you with a severe case of wanderlust, and will hopefully garner Joseph Ridgwell the notoriety that his talent deserves. Special mention has to go to the astounding front cover design – A woodcut from Southern Californian artist Jose Arroyo – in my humble opinion never before has a cover so accurately captured the spirit and essence of a novel so perfectly. Viva la Mexico! - Martin Appleby
As a writer, I relish the occasional night of ritualistic storytelling. Nights where it becomes a sport, sat around bars, campfires, or kitchen tables; exchanging stories of where you’ve been and what you’ve seen with friends family and the occasional stranger. As the people and places within them naturally become mythologised over time, but never watered down.
It’s a world that’s as real as the stench of a taco shit, or a warm smile from a beautiful señorita. This is the world where Joe Ridgwell’s Burrito Deluxe exists.
I briefly visited Mexico, heading over the Californian border to Tijuana. I was only there for twenty-four hours tops, an experience that was as brief and authentically Mexican as a microwaveable enchilada from Asda. So, in a way it’s strange that I find myself relating to all of this. However, like any good storyteller, Ridgwell makes you feel as if you’re there with him.
But it would take a good eighteen years for this story to become a novel. And those years of incubation have served it well. It’s this time that’s clearly given Ridgwell the perspective to craft it all. One reason for this could be that the story behind the story is just as crazy as the novel. After salivating over the arrival of this puppy for a long time, I asked Ridgwell about the events that unfold around Burrito Deluxe. It’s not my story to tell, but let’s just say that Joe’s partner in crime, Ronnie is just as real as Joe Ridgwell. And peace be with Ronnie wherever he may be.
Our tale starts not in Mexico, but in East London. A London of psychotropic parties, great boozers, of heavy comedowns, quick tempers, bad jobs, or no jobs at all. A London that brought back my memories of the city I’d lived in, with all its highs and lows. Joe and his infamous travel partner Ronnie, drift in and out of trouble, disenchanted with youth and their lots in life. Soon it becomes clear that the only thing that can cure it is to leave it all behind, that feeling of wiping the slate clean with somewhere new; Mexico.
Ronnie and Joe plan various schemes to raise the cash for Mexico by day. Leaving the nights to tour the pubs, parties and dive clubs with their equally young and boozy outfit. And like everything in their hometown at that point, Ronnie and Joe’s relationship with their friends is largely one of tolerance/annoyance. Whether that be from the returning face of the drug addled Surfer Boy or from the egregious Eyes Down, it feels that Ronnie and Joe are searching for something greater than their friends are.
This section of the novel could have been explained in a few pages, but I’m glad it didn’t because the pacing is perfect. Anything less would have seemed far too rushed. Of course, there’s other tales that include both Ronnie and Joe, but by starting the journey back home, the story becomes more personal and revealing and allows the reader to share part of the dream and fantasy of their escape.
Like many who are determined enough, their perseverance eventually pays off and soon they’re on a plane to Mexico City. A page turn later and. the pair is venturing down a dusty Mexican street, with flowers in their hair embarking on their journey. A journey that spans exotic beaches, Mayan ruins, jungles, Mexican ghettos and the open road, with many twists and turns along the way. A journey that eighteen years later would turn into Ridgwell’s finest work to date, a novel named Burrito Deluxe.
I’ve waited to read this book for quite some time and my only worry was that the waiting might cause my expectations to go into overkill. However, a few pages in and I knew that it had been more than worth the wait. And although this book contains the classic Ridgwell ingredients that make it simple, fun and invigorating – this book seemed deeper and more compelling than ever. Whether you’ve ever even been abroad or not, there’s a nostalgic coming of age vibe that runs through this flawlessly.
Burrito Deluxe gives you the whole enchilada; a real and raw account of two East End gringos traveling through Mexico. And one that’ll have you turning page after page, in voracious succession. All of which is presented under another beautiful cover by the impressive woodcut artist/writer Jose Arroyo. So it’s time to invest your time and money wisely – find those credit cards and follow the links… - Gwil James
Joseph Ridgwell, The Buddha Bar, blackheath books, 2011.
It is with great pleasure that blackheath books introduce their fourth hotly anticipated Joseph Ridgwell publication. His second novel: The Buddha Bar.
Following on from events portrayed in Ridgwell’s cult classic, Last Days of the Cross, the book kicks off in a Malaysian beach hut. A rudimentary abode our eponymous hero shares with his only companion, a knife-wielding, coconut decapitating Croatian called Karl.
After a series of adventures, the new friends find themselves in the pretty Thai riverside town of Sang Som ruminating on how to extend their travels indefinitely. The idea of ever going home being anathema to both.
It is in this idyllic setting that they hook up with the irrepressible, Mindi, who it appears, has the answer to all their problems. After an all night booze session at the appropriately named, Great Golden Phallus, the idea of owning and running a tiny beach bar is tossed into the fetid and oppressive tropical air…
Within days of the, ‘offer he couldn’t refuse.’ Ridgwell finds himself co-proprietor of the world’s smallest drinking establishment, The Buddha Bar. From here on in the action intensifies. With bar girls, bar flies, jealous ex-husbands, corrupt police, monsoons, mosquitoes, rat infestations, drug binges, international terrorism, excessive drinking, and border runs to contend with, events spiral out of control and life takes a far darker turn…
Incorporating tantalising flashes of the literary genre he invented, Cosmic Realism, and utilising his trademark short, sharp sentences, mind-bending language, and honed-to-the-bone description, Ridgwell has crafted another underground classic. A comically unspeakable tale expertly held together by his fiendishly degenerate and subversive literary hand.
Joseph Ridgwell, Indonesia, Kilmog Press, 2011.
I started writing what would eventually form the basis of this novella over a decade ago. At first they were a loosely connected set of stories, poems, notes, or what the Australian writer Henry Lawson might’ve referred to as sketches. As time went by and my writing skills improved, I came to realise there was enough material to comprise a short novel, and gradually began drawing all the pieces together until they bonded into a recognisable whole.
The subsequent book follows my adventures as I wander from one Indonesian island to another without any recognisable itinerary or purpose. From volcanos at dawn to beach bars populated with philosophical gigolos, each chapter documents my own weirdie travel experience in the region. There are encounters with goddesses, man-eating komodo dragons, sex fiends, islands without beer, spirits of delight, tattooed prostitutes, drug-fuelled hallucinations, and even a little holiday romance Island of the Gods style. And of course alcohol, for like most of my work, a good deal of drinking occurs.
For those interested in chronology, the events described in Indonesia predate the fictionalised events described in my novel, Last Days of the Cross.
Joe Ridgwell – February – 2011 -
Joseph Ridgwell, Last Days of the Cross, Grevious Jones Press 2009
“An autobiography is only to be trusted” George Orwell once wrote, “when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats.” With Last Days of the Cross, Joseph Ridgwell, bastard son of Arturo Bandini and the Artful Dodger, admirably rises (or perhaps sinks) to the challenge. It’s with a mix of bleak authenticity, lunatic ambition but above all self-deprecating charm that Ridgwell creates a gem of a book that will horrify the more faint-hearted of the cognoscenti (but, frankly, to hell with them).
The rich seams of misery and near-ruin have long been mined for literary greatness: Knut Hamsun’s Hunger, Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London, Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground, W. H. Davies’ The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp. Long is the list of those who’ve sought out enlightenment amidst lives led below the breadline (whether through choice or necessity), using the force of will to survive and somehow prosper through the grimness. In the Last Days of the Cross, there are barrel-loads of misery. Rail-trucks full of it. There’s so much it has its own factories and Five Year Plans with Ridgwell a veritable Stakhanov at the coalface. Misery, debauchery, destitution, thwarted dreams and the burning resolve of the damned. Last Days of the Cross has it all in abundance. It is also one of the funniest books you’ll read this year.
The book recounts the trials and adventures of young Joseph having departed the shores of Blighty, bound for the care-free beaches of Australia and literary greatness. Instead our hero finds himself living in a dosshouse amidst the ramshackle decadence of Sydney’s red-light district, falling in love with a junky aborigine girl called Rosie who robs him blind and periodically leaves him to wallow lovelorn amongst bottles of rot-gut wine, porn cubicles and peeping toms. The twin struggles of finding love and writing his masterpiece propel the book through picaresque encounters with addicts, lecherous spinsters and the eternal evils of the landlord and the boss.
For a writer like Ridgwell who has carved out a reputation as something of a literary pugilist (never ceasing to stir up trouble, intentionally or not), Last Days of the Cross is a surprisingly freewheeling story, being hilariously self-deprecating and quixotic. Unlike many of the hipster free-verse disciples of Bukowski, Ridgwell has learned the old bard’s most valuable lesson; it’s not believing in some sense of smug deadbeat cool that counts, it’s being aware of and utterly honest about your own innate ridiculousness. Last Days… is funniest at its most triumphant and its bleakest (often these moments are indistinguishable); “No longer would I be Joseph Ridgwell, the Bard of Kings Cross but Joseph Ridgwell: Peanut King!”
For all the bravado that you fear may come with its subject matter, it’s an astonishingly open-hearted book in an age when literary games, trickery and dislocation seem paramount, a tender, even gentle, carouse through the gutter. There’s even an openness to the world that marks Ridgwell out as a romantic. Sure enough there’s something in here to offend everyone, with the narrator throwing out casual insults and non-PC remarks continually along the way but it’s done with a disarming charm and more importantly the redeeming fact that Ridgwell fully includes himself in the sorry morass of humanity.
For a book which concentrates on the folly and freedom (to starve) of the aspiring bohemian, there is, not surprisingly, a great deal of focus on the act of writing itself or rather the lack of. Seeking Li Po’s long-vacated poetic throne, Ridgwell soon finds himself at war with the blank page or in this case the blank screen, raging against his laptop and the Microsoft logo “which kept moving in diagonal directions” and which mocks his inactivity (“So you think you can defeat me, eh? You inanimate technological object! You think you can get one over on the world’s greatest living poet, ha, you mug. Can’t you see the odds are stacked against you?”). He labours to write odes inspired by the prostitutes viewed from his window or nature or, in one case, a museum painting. Ridgwell “Poet of Clouds,” Ridgwell “the Brick Poet.” He fails, initially at least, at each.
With an honesty that avoids worthiness, Ridgwell tries to write an epic about “the street kids, drunkards… the lost, the lonely, the marginalised and the dispossessed” in the comically-superior hope his “childhood home” will be “turned into a museum and shrine by the Ridgwell Appreciation Society” and “there would be guided tours of the Cross – Ridgwell drank in this bar, sat on that very stool.” He emerges, it has to be said, with a genuinely great poem Kings Cross at 6AM but conquering art is one thing. Conquering life is not as easy.
The course of love never runs smooth and Ridgwell fluctuates from writing smitten rhapsodies to Rosie to vengeful odes armed with “disgusting adjectives, fiery metaphors and accusing similes.” Occasionally he falls into the nihilism that is the disappointment of the failed romantic, “We could never be together and it was madness to think otherwise… who did I think I was? I was no poet, no artist. Only people with trust funds or inmates of lunatic asylums could call themselves such flaky things.” The love boat repeatedly crashes against the rocks of the everyday, as Mayakovsky’s suicide note went. Heartache and joy and uncertainty inevitably await.
As much a chart of the perils and highs of romance, Last Days… is concerned with the struggle of the modern soul for authentic experience, for solitude and some deeper wisdom, against the jobs, the managers, the whinging realists, the hangovers, the writers block and the long dark nights of the soul which all conspire to derail us. Ridgwell flirts with the dark side, chasing the dragon with his erstwhile lover, “I didn’t care about anything because nothing mattered. Writing was ridiculous; poetry absurd, the patrons of such arts demented and the artists themselves a bunch of pretentious, preening egotists” a happiness that “was filled with resounding echoes of hollow and empty transience.” It’s symbolic of the book as a whole, when all the highs are transitory and have sadness in them because they are so fleeting. Observations in Last Days… come as lightly as they do in life but with a real importance than can easily be missed. Ridgwell talks of mortality and age in movingly simple terms (“how does that shit happen?”). He studies monstrous Ibis birds, “their white plumage blackened by pollution, exhaust fumes, a sorry vaguely intimidating sight. Their strange bills made me shudder; evil. What is it about the city and city life? Look what it does to people and even animals. It brutalises everything.”
On occasion, Ridgwell delivers a startling stop-dead-in-your-tracks turn-of-phrase; “the next day I awoke to find my tiny bed-sit glowing like the inside of a cathedral or an expectant mother’s womb,” commuting to work in a packed train feeling like “a bag of solidified shit” or as said of a work colleague stuck in a deadening job, “no wonder an air of eternal regret followed him around like a sad refrain or wistful lament.” Mostly, there’s an endearing mix of the naïve and the streetwise sides of the narrator,
“Follow me,” he whispered.
“Where to?” I whispered back.
“To the roof!”
Fuck it, I thought. Maybe he’s got a telescope up there and I’d always fancied doing a bit of stargazing…
Up on the roof, Beardy adopted a more conspiratorial air.
Ridgwell’s air of flippant disrespect continues with his healthy hatred of management, referring to his building-site boss as “moustache man” and Village People (“once he’d fucked off I assessed the situation”). The plentiful humour in the face of stark reality is one reason to read this book. Another is to find out the significance of the number 6789. Or how a man can let down the dishonourable traditions of the Poètes maudits by not havng sex with a ladyboy.
Last Days of the Cross is ultimately a lament for a dying world where the joys and miseries of semi-destitution and hedonism are replaced by the simple dulleries of work and streets full of the same coffee shops and department stores as everywhere else, the horrors of gentrification. “The scene was moving on. Junkies were vanishing, drunks and vagrants being rounded up and dispersed… and the people moving in were different – professional-types, city workers… lovers of café society and spotless sidewalks.”
“Where does it all go?” Ridgwell wonders in the end “the junkies, misfits, hookers… drunks,” hoping to follow the drift “to the next frontline because there’s always got to be a frontline somewhere…”
Joseph Ridgwell, Oswald’s Apartment, Blackheat Books, 2010.
It is with great pleasure that Blackheath Books introduce their third Joseph Ridgwell publication, the long awaited debut collection of short fiction - Oswald’s Apartment.
Oswald’s Apartment follows on from Where Are the Rebels and Load the Guns and readers familiar with Ridgwell will find him at his very best, redefining deadbeat philosophy at breakneck speed. This stunning collection kicks off in the hand to mouth world of Australian lowlife, careers into tales of beach bars in Thailand, and culminates in the drugged and somewhat depraved world of London nightlife.
In between there are tales of impending insanity, human frailty, malicious transsexuals, homicidal eggs, time travel, deadbeat jobs, relationship breakdowns, boozing, chemical transmutations, smelly sex, soulless orgies, women rebels and even a 21st century end of the world apocalypse!
With the use of short, sharp sentences, raw language, sparse adjectives and honed-to-the-bone description, Ridgwell has created a style he himself has labelled cosmic realism and in doing so defines the times he lives in.
The collection is available in an edition of 26 signed and lettered (A-Z) copies with ridiculous handmade woollen tassels (£10) and a signed numbered edition of 100 'au natural' (£7.50). Front cover linocut print by Brighton Stuckist Dan Belton.
Joseph Ridgwell, Load the Guns, Blackheat Books, 2009.
The confederate companion to Ridgwell’s first chapbook of poetry the highly acclaimed, Where are the Rebels? is finally out. In, Load the Guns, Ridgwell once again drags the reader down into the underbelly of society to reveal the cracked modern world in all its ruined beauty.
On delving into this stunning collection the reader encounters the beat apartments and alcohol drenched streets of London, Kings Cross, Sydney and even a midnight Mexican beach as Ridgwell continues his doomed search for the mythical lost elation. There are paeans to Bonnie & Clyde, ex-lovers, hedonism, sex, booze, near-death experiences, beauty, loneliness, and wasted life blues.
Load the Guns, required reading for lovers of underground and anti-mainstream poetry and any isolationists, offbeats, non-conformists, nightcrawlers, dandies, hippies, boozers, junkies, hobos, sweethearts, young lovers, grievous angels, and misfit outsiders all over the world.
Joseph Ridgwell, Where Are the Rebels?, Blackheat Books, 2008.
Seemingly from out of nowhere emerges a startling collection of poems from a writer prepared to leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of truth, beauty, and brutality. Ridgwell’s poems will drag you down into the dark alleys of the literary underground with a compelling combination of ferocity, melancholy, and sad hung over blues refrains.
In this slim, but important volume the reader will encounter dead strippers, dead girlfriends, deadbeat jobs, and the beauty and banality of modern existence in all its convoluted complexity. Fight fire with fire, says Ridgwell, and be prepared to rock and roll right to the very bitter end!
Where are the Rebels is a ground-breaking and thought provoking collection, a must have for any adventurous and esoteric reader, and the literary equivalent of a fully-automated and loaded AK47!
‘Joe Ridgwell is a man to watch. He's stacked with talent. This book of poems is just the beginning. Look out world.’
- Mark SaFranko
‘Joe Ridgwell is the kind of poet that those obnoxious fucking poetry critics hate. He didn't go to school and swallow the classics, and come out regurgitating them for up-their-own-arse poetry journals that nobody reads. He's an East End geezer who wields stanzas like some people wield Stanley knives. In some idealistic alternate reality, where our national drug of choice is something a bit stronger than reality TV, Joe Ridgwell would the fucking poet laureate.’ - Tony O’Neill
‘Tough...raw...from the heart, and from the gut. Ridgwell might be the best young writer out there.’ - Mikael Covey
Raised in the East End of London, Joseph Ridgwell (the writer) has lived in Cuba, Mexico, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Belize and Thailand -and- has lived in a shack, a boat, a bar, a brothel, bedsits, and with strangers from all over the world. At nineteen, he was stabbed in a bar brawl and, cheating death, decided to leave the UK, travel the world, and teach himself how to write. He has published novels, poetry, and short fiction from the U.K to New Zealand. His most recent work is the novella Indonesia, available from Kilmog Press.
What projects are you currently working on?
Aside from cirrhosis of the liver, and indoor assault courses for housebound cats and kittens, I’m working on a novel, called the Jago. It’s set in the East End of London in the early Edwardian era. As a genuine Eastender I felt it only right that the definitive East End novel should be written by a true Cockney, and not by some over educated cunt from Oxbridge or wherever. Also, aside from the slim volume, Into the Abyss, by an American called Jack London, there is absolutely no working class literature from this period. Aside for this, my latest novel, The Buddha Bar, will be out on Blackheath Books, sometime later this year.
When and why did you begin writing?
I saw a gap in the market, a massive fucking gap, e.g 99.9 percent of published writers were completely fucking shit. I figured I’d steam in and let them know what was what…you know liven things up a little.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I do not consider myself a writer, no man or woman can consider themselves to be a writer unless they are able to earn a living by it, and that goes for all the shit poets in the world. The wannabe writer has to ask themselves the question. What pays the rent? If the answer is their parents, the monthly check from their employer, or some government grant. Then they stack shelves in a supermarket, or are on welfare, or are subsidized by the taxpayer, e.g all students and public sector workers. I rest my case.
What inspired you to write your first book?
All the terrible books on the bookshelves, by shit writers connected or unconnected, but still controlled by the corporate mainstream publishing industry. (Actually it’s always referred to as an industry, but in reality our cultural literary heritage, past and present, is in the hands of a few incredibly wealthy freaks who, if they’re not related by blood, are all fucking each other and fucking over everyone else.) Think about it, you’re about to go on holiday and you need to buy a book at the airport, in fact you are desperate for a good read, but what choice are you presented with, fuck all choice!
Who or what has influenced your writing?
John Fante, Knut Hamsun, Jack Kerouac, Marquis de Sade, Terry Southern, Jack London, Bukowski, Celine, Blaise Cendrars, Henry Lawson, Jean Rhys, Patrick Hamilton and Richard Brautigan.
How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
Inestimably. I’m a Cockney, we are free spirits and non conformists. In fact I don’t think Cockney’s can be referred to as English or British, they have somehow evolved into a sub-species, with their own language, mannerisms and culture. This sort of upbringing is incredibly creative. From a very young age we are taught how to lie, cheat, thieve, and fight the system at all times, manna from heaven for any would be writer.
Do you have a specific writing style?
Cosmic realism, which I invented. This is the ability to tell a story so far-fetched and bizarre and obviously not based in any sort of reality, but which the reader willingly accepts as the gospel truth. Try it, it’s not easy.
What genre are you most comfortable writing?
Is there a message in your work that you want readers to grasp?
A message I try to convey to readers of my work, is one of peace love and harmony. You know, at the time of writing, my readership is composed of a select band of visionaries. I treat each and every one of them like an extended family. They are all my children.
What book are you reading now?
A Canvey Island of the Mind by Ford Dagenham – required reading for all underground lit fiends and heads.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Hosho McCreesh US poet, Jenni Fagan Scottish writer, whose debut novel, The Panoptican will be the next big thing.
What is the most misunderstood aspect of your work?
That I’m not the greatest writer of my generation. I am, and if anyone disagrees, they misunderstand the times I write in
Any memories of particular works: the writing of, feedback, the thought behind…etc.
I wrote my debut novel, Last Days of the Cross, in under three weeks. When I tell people this they often criticize, e.g, saying I must have rushed it. I disagree. It was the only way that book could’ve been written. All I can say is get hold of a copy of the book and see or make a judgment for yourselves. As far as I’m concerned, some writers take their time, others just do it. I did it.
Any advice for aspiring writers?
Don’t bother. Do something constructive with your life, become a politician, a lawyer, a brain surgeon, or an international financier. Go make some money hammerhead. - David Hoenigman
Joseph Ridgwell was raised in the East End of London and left school with no formal qualifications. Despite this he read his way through every classic book, underground writer, poet or philosopher he could get his hands on.
At nineteen he was stabbed in a bar brawl and decided to leave the UK, travel the world and learn how to write.
Ridgwell has lived in Cuba, Mexico, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Belize and finally Thailand where he ran a bar. During his travels he lived in a shack, a boat, a bar, a brothel, bedsits and with strangers from all over the world.
Ridgwell brings back stories from the edge, imbued with humour, sex, philosophy, hope, defiance, brutality and truth. He returned to London seven years ago and since then has published three poetry collections, a short story collection and a first novel. He is a cult figure of the literary underground both in the UK and abroad.