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Travel Essays & Travelogues

Touch Anywhere to Begin

by (author) Mark Anthony Jarman

Goose Lane Editions
Initial publish date
Sep 2022
Essays & Travelogues, Essays, Canadian
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2022
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2022
    List Price

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Shortlisted, New Brunswick Book Award (Non-Fiction)

From acclaimed author Mark Anthony Jarman comes Touch Anywhere to Begin, his first book of travel writing since the publication of the critically acclaimed Ireland’s Eye in 2002.

In 18 unusual, head-spinning essays, Jarman can drift through Venice amid the revelry of carnival and the arrival of the impending pandemic or visit a private club along Shanghai’s Huangpu River to be serenaded by a band of retired People’s Liberation Army singers. In “Panthers and Gods Prowl a Palace of Sin,” an invitation to the Kala Ghoda Festival in Mumbai forges a connection with a jetlagged pair of Arctic throat singers and a doctor fascinated by Canada. In “Jesus on the Mainline,” an extended hospitalization beside the intubated victim of a drunk-driving accident reveals a difficult family drama.

And this, of course, is only the beginning. Masterfully written, Touch Anywhere to Begin penetrates the impressionistic moments and intimacies of travel to reveal character and place like none other.

About the author

Mark Anthony Jarman is the author of 19 Knives, New Orleans Is Sinking, Dancing Nightly in the Tavern, and the travel book Ireland's Eye. His novel, Salvage King Ya!, is on's list of 50 Essential Canadian Books and is the number one book on Amazon's list of best hockey fiction.


He has been short-listed for the O. Henry Prize and Best American Essays, he won a Gold National Magazine Award in nonfiction, has twice won the Maclean-Hunter Endowment Award, won the Jack Hodgins Fiction Prize, and has been included in The Journey Prize Anthology and Best Canadian Stories.


He has published recently in Walrus, Canadian Geographic, Hobart, The Barcelona Review, Vrij Nederland, and reviews for The Globe & Mail. He is a graduate of The Iowa Writers' Workshop, a Yaddo fellow, has taught at the University of Victoria, the Banff Centre for the Arts, and now teaches at the University of New Brunswick, where he is fiction editor of The Fiddlehead.


His newest collection of stories, My White Planet, was published in 2008.

Mark Anthony Jarman's profile page


  • Short-listed, New Brunswick Book Award (Non-Fiction)

Editorial Reviews

“The word travel, Mark Anthony Jarman tells us, is linked to travail and error, to wander and err. In these vivid essays he wanders the world, each one offering a new adventure. Some are haunted by the solemn, whether the pandemic or the death of a friend, while others are light-hearted and wry. All of them reminded me of the unexpectedness of travel and the surprise of chance encounters — everything we gain from going somewhere we’ve never been before.”

Alix Ohlin, author of <i>We Want What We Want</i>

“Mark Anthony Jarman is a formidable interpreter of place. In these wide-ranging essays, inspired by travel but which supersede mere travel writing, he turns a sharp, observant eye on the mystery of experience and consciousness. He has the rare ability to take the reader with him on these fascinating journeys with picaresque wit and an alertness that never fails to both inform and entertain.”

Jean McNeil, author of <i>Ice Diaries: An Antarctic Memoir</i>

“A vigorously kinetic book at the cusp of the global and the planetary. Its journeys and antijourneys take us where we want to go but resist going. These pages also shimmer with a radical love for the well-made literary sentence. Read anywhere.”

Jaspreet Singh, author of <i>Face: A Novel of the Anthropocene</i>

“Vivid descriptions help give readers a sense of each destination, while the author’s personal reflections help connect the stories to each other.”

<i>Winnipeg Free Press</i>

“Through the meat mazes of Venice, Croatia, Ireland, China and back to the Mediterranean, Jarman lays thick the theme that travel changes us. Through the “atonal orchestras” of Mumbai to the “rhythmic constellations” of street dancers, it is apparent that life is a dance, and the end notes not necessarily always where we meant to go.”

<i>Atlantic Books Today</i>

Touch Anywhere to Begin is a rich and satisfying collection of personal essays garnered from the journeys of a wanderer by nature. Mark Anthony Jarman is a quirky and sometimes irritable travel companion who describes himself as a rotten traveller..., but whose deep love for the places and people he meets along the way...will have you hanging on every word. And it’s not just what he writes about that will keep you riveted; it’s his first-rate writing that will hold you.”

<i>Miramichi Reader</i>

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