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Scarp [Kindle Edition]

Nick Papadimitriou
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Product Description


'Nick is an inspirational figure and a significant spectre. It replenishes my sense of London to know he is out there, somewhere on the western fringes, walking, prospecting, making his reports. He is the prophet of deep-topography, a post-academic discipline, learned on the hoof. You may not be aware of him, but the culture will shrivel when he is not around.' (IAIN SINCLAIR, author of Hackney, that Rose-Red Empire and London Orbital)

'He sees magic in everything. He's like a mystic or an alchemist, hoovering up the magic of stone and brick and concrete. He's also got an incredible language at his disposal, remarkable ideas and a deep sense of lucid confusion.' (RUSSELL BRAND)

'In an era when the search for authenticity has become de trop, Nick Papadimitriou is a startling personification: a superb nature writer, a poet, the originator and preeminent practitioner of the discipline he has dubbed 'deep topography'. From the council flat in Child's Hill, North London, where he has lived for over a quarter century, he sets out on journeys through the urban space that have the velocity and the daring exploratory feel of interstellar voyaging. I urge you to read the results: they are haunting, strange, lyrical, poignant - a testimony to a life that is triumphantly less ordinary.' (WILL SELF)

The most vital document about London in years . . . brilliantly imagined . . . it's compelling singularity and off-message cultural engagement are things we should be profoundly thankful for. (Time Out *****)

'Nick Papadimitriou veers closer to the topographical delirium of Iain Sinclair or JG Ballard in Scarp: a ramble through his home suburbs of north London that spreads a visionary gleam over the mysterious backwaters of the Northern Line'. (Independent Books of the Year)

Very engaging.Years of study and dreaming in the spare bedroom of his flat have given birth to a series of fantastic journeys . . . (Observer)

'What a strange and wonderful work it is... A series of walks across Scarp, loosely stretching from Harefield in the south-west to Hertford in the north-east, forms the main thread of the book. Nick is the perpetual outsider. He's the scruffy-looking drifter staring over your garden fence, or sleeping rough on a golf course. He's the arsonist who twice set fire to his school, and did time for burning down his neighbour's house. Yet he writes like an angel, avoiding the abstruse prose often found in "psychogeographic" writing.' (

'Its full of poetry - something to keep on the night-stand and dip in and out of when the mood takes you. There's a breathtaking amount of colour here, with the author adopting a point of view that makes what are in reality rather mundane suburbs seem like places of mystery and magic.' (

If Will Self is partly responsible for the current popularity of psychogeographic writing, then 'deep topographer' Nick Papadimitriou deserves credit for influencing Self's thinking . . . SCARP is intense and deeply personal . . . Ultimately this isn't a book about the Scarp but about fringes - of society, cities, nature, perhaps even sanity. Self's droll psychogeographic adventures are more fun but they lack the sheer Joycean scope of Papadimitriou's ramblings: this is the hard stuff. (Metro)

His great achievement is demonstrating how a long walk can be a meditative healing process where one can forget what is mundane, and reconnect not only with one's inner self, but also with something deeper and even more tangible. (We Love This Book)

Papadimitriou is a wildly exotic gatecrasher . . . an heroically odd book . . . rich in memorable phrases. (Word Magazine)

A terrific read, beautifully written. (Robert Elms, BBC London)

SCARP is a scuffed jewel of a book. (Independent)

The urban flaneur's alternative exploration of north London, combining social history and memoir (The Times)

Book Description


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 766 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1444723383
  • Publisher: Sceptre (21 Jun 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008472Q6C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #139,844 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cosmic Humming worlds. 13 Aug 2012
'Scarp' is a book of extraordinary beauty. The author begins his journey on the sprawling edges of North London's sullen housing estates,then steps off the beaten track, moving away from the 1950s power stations and factories, past the peeling remainders of 1970s graffiti, and then takes long walks, deep into the countryside,into secretive magical forests, meditating on the cosmic humming worlds he discovers there. He explores abandoned houses and shacks, and forgotten worlds, and reflects on the disappeared lives that he finds there. He reflects on the transitory poignant nature of his own life, and the lives of those he remembers.

It is an esoteric book, and it is a mystics' text, yet it is, equally, a poignantly mundane,empathetic and open reverie.

It is the most convincing, most vital book I have read in years and years.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring for my own local research 16 Dec 2012
By P K
A great book that teaches new possibilities how to experience your local area. Anywhere can be interesting. You don't need to travel far to discover new worlds. This book is about depth of experience, not about breadth. You can be a great explorer of the world for free.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Geography Trip 25 Sep 2013
He has the same gift for transforming the mundane as fellow "psychogeographers" Iain Sinclair and Will Self, but it's Papadimitriou's more personal slant on his subject that makes Scarp such a compelling read.

Papadimitriou started his obsessional long walks through old Middlesex as a result of a troubled youth, and here he recounts his grim adventures as a young arsonist along with interesting chapters on local history. The book is interspersed with inventive, trippy flights of fancy, which really shows-off his skills as a writer. A wonderful book.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Over the hills and far away 16 Jun 2012
There are any number of books--on mountaineering or fishing, say--where the landscape is all; and only a handful where the landscape so thoroughly informs the narrative as to itself become a major actor--the London of Dickens's "Bleak House" or the Purbeck of Keith Roberts's "Pavane", for instance.

But Papadimitriou's mercilessly readable prose unites with his insight, wit, and sheer exuberance to transcend even those seminal works and present us with something managing to be both elegiacal and celebratory and that could reasonably be called unique, for this is far more than just an exploration of a once rural outer-London landcape, as it also incorporates history (both real and imagined, and, yes, local), folk lore, folk memory, and many episodes and amusing discursions on the author's own quite eventful life.

But where do Scarp the geological feature and Scarp the book start and finish? Papadimitriou the deep-topographer skilfully renders a literary version of the topologist's Möbius strip, turning endlessly in-and-outside itself: In its beginning is its end / In its end is its beginning, so to say.

The book thus defies categorization, and confounds any expectations you may have had, and should appeal to any enquiring-minded reader, whether or not from London, or even Britain.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A travelogue through mind and country 18 Jan 2014
This is a strange book in so many ways, it a a physical journey around the escarpment of land around the north of London. But he also takes a wander through his past, and family, reminiscing about his avoidance of school, prison life and his drug experiences.

Some of the prose is beautiful; he has a wonderful turn of phrase, and his observational detail is superb. It does get very surreal at times, where the book reaches some of the darker depths of his mind. The writing reminds me of Ian Sinclair, in some ways, complex, layered and esoteric. The last one I read I could not get on with, but may have another go soon.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By oscar7
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An amazing mash-up of a book - I've never read anything quite like this before. Even if you don't know anything about the area you're in for a big treat. Excellent!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique! 18 Nov 2012
I discovered Nick' work through a film, The London Perambulator, made about him a couple of years ago, and from the film and finding out that he contributed research for Will Self's The Book of Dave, probably my favourite modern novel, I was eagerly anticipating Scarp. It hasn't disappointed.

In terms of categorisation, it is easier to say what Scarp isn't than what it is. It isn't an autobiography, nor a travelogue, nor a geographical analysis of the area it describes, nor is it psychology or a Kerouacian stream of conscious narrative - yet in part it is all these and more.

Poetic, inspiring, beautiful writing about an area that I know well but now see from a totally new angle. Having lived for a good portion of my life in South Hertfordshire, Scarp was at once familiar territory and a fresh vision. Nick's approach and his writing are quite simply - to use word that is sadly overused in its true sense - unique.

I would highly recommend Scarp, both to anyone who knows the South Hertfordshire/ North London area - you will see the familiar in a very different way - and to anyone else, with the assurance that you will be drawn in by the quality of the prose and will very soon feel you know the district - and Nick himself.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Grateful to Will Self for mentioning this book......
A fascinating work. Nick's story emerged which made for a different read to the psychogeographer's approach as I left Scarp and became more interested in the man.
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Kept me enthralled. A must if you only see outer London as a sprawl of...
Unusual book/ story but absolutely enthralled me . I read it in four sittings !
I admit it might not be for every one . Read more
Published 4 months ago by James Howells
5.0 out of 5 stars irreversibly transforms whatever it was we may have thought `mundane'...
This is a deceptive book. It would be easy to mistake its self-deprecating, sometimes prickly, tones as the work of someone at ease in the margins, comfortable in a cultural... Read more
Published on 18 Nov 2012 by Mr. Philip R. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest books ever written?
I have spent the last twenty five years or so years plodding around the eastern last third of Scarp, the area North and East of Potters Bar, west of the A10/New River. Read more
Published on 7 Oct 2012 by Jeffrey Prior
4.0 out of 5 stars Hallucinatory Geography
Nick Papadimitriou comes endorsed by psycho-geographers Will Self and Ian Sinclair, and by bad boy Russell Brand. Read more
Published on 10 Sep 2012 by AndrewB
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of Wonder
I have followed Nick on various websites and blogs over a few years and I regard myself as a fellow traveller of SCARP. Read more
Published on 5 Sep 2012 by N. A. Osborne
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