David Rodinsky, madman and/or visionary disappeared from his room above a disused East London synagogue, never to be seen again. His room - for that was all that was left -remained locked and lost until it was "rediscovered" in the early 1980's. Is there anything about this room that that makes it special? Stories emerge continually about the reclusive, too confused or too intelligent to deal with the modern world, who are found surrounded by the detritus of their lives. What makes Rodinsky's room different is the absence of a body, we cannot be shown "this is why this is", no pathetic creature stumbling ranting and mumbling to whoever their god is, no closure. It becomes a locked room mystery, the type of fiction made famous by another man more myth than reality, Edgar Allen Poe. The room becomes a cipher, for Rachel Lichtenstein, as she unravels her Jewish heritage, becomes reconciled with it and moves to her future. As for Iain Sinclair - ever the well connected London chancer - the room gives him another pretext for a walk across the pages of the London A - Z. For once his visionary view of London is left flat footed by Litchtenstein's near obsessional quest for Rodinsky and the Jews of East London. Rodinsky's Room is also about time. A room frozen as if on the event horizon of a Black Hole, it also defined the instant of it's rediscovery . Old London was disappearing, the political strife and rubbish filled streets of the late 1970's were swept away under the tide of the new Tory Government .Peter Ackroyd states in his brilliant London The Biography , strife and filth have been central to London for centuries, and some of this past was about to disappear. Margaret Thatcher declaimed "there is no such thing as society" as waves of yuppies started their surge across the city. Hunter S Thompson once said with the right eyes you could see where the wave of the Hippy ideals broke and rolled back. In the 1980's with eyes filled with fear and loathing you could watch a false moneyed, self obsessed wave, break across London. From the East End to Notting Hill in the West, filling and surging down the Northern line to Tooting Bec in the South. The Liberal Left, the Intelligentsia, the "chattering classes" battened down their hatches and readied themselves to ride out the storm. Many looked backwards, to a time of community. The GLC parties and concerts of the time brought people together. Some marched for CND and the Coal Miners. Others looked further back, Georgian Houses squatted in Spitalfields, an attempt to forget the 20th Century for a while. Central to this was the publication of Peter Ackroyd's Hawksmoor, taking all to an arcane, mythic London, to older horrors away from present terrors. London gripped by material greed developed an ethereal edge. At this time writer Joe Cushley was convinced he was confronted by Cerberus the dog guardian of Hades. Late one night in a park by the Thames he was confronted by two Rottweiller's and a black Alsatian , as quickly as they materialised they were called away by their unseen master . The worst thing he said was not the fear, but his fear was controlled not by the dogs but by something he could not see. I cannot think of a less subtle metaphor for London in the 80's. Rodinsky's Room, a place out of time, ripe for rediscovery, an anchor to a lost community, to all lost communities. The book is a fascinating and compelling read, although we learn little about it's subject , we learn much about Rachel Lichtchstein, who, while discovering herself , seems to create a Golem out of the dust in Rodinsky's attic. Once she is secure, her Golem, Rodinsky, and as we all eventually will, return to nothing but dust in a room.