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London Overground: A Day's Walk Around the Ginger Line Paperback – 7 Apr 2016
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Publisher's description. From London's master psychogeographer and the author of Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire, comes a new adventure into the city's ancient and modern secrets. This is a living history of the edgelands and forgotten spaces surrounding London Overground: a portrait of the shifting, changing metropolis as seen from the 'Ginger Line'. (Penguin)
Sometimes dark, sometimes wry... For the aficionado, London Overground will deliver all the delights of Sinclair's edgy and hard-edged prose; for those who do not know his work it is an accessible starting point for one of the most rewarding oeuvres in 21st century literature (Scotsman)
He is incapable of writing a dull paragraph (Scotland on Sunday)
Sinclair breathes wondrous life into monstrous, man-made landscapes (Times Literary Supplement)
If you are drawn to English that doesn't just sing, but sings the blues and does scat and rocks the joint, try Sinclair. His sentences deliver a rush like no one else's (Washington Post)
Sinclair [is a] peerless London literary wanderer and street-level cultural archaeologist... delirious, often hilarious urban palimpsest where pin-sharp observation, cultural hauntings and offbeat memoir fuse in sentences that catch your breath like a lurid toxic sunset over Hackney Marshs (Independent)
For my money the most crucial and most bar-adjusting voice currently resonating in the English language.... Those who aspire to understand what is happening in modern writing should start here (Alan Moore)
From the Back Cover
'A walk around the circuit of the elevated railway, that accidental re-mapping of London, in a single day.'
The completion of the full circle of London Overground provides Iain Sinclair with a new path to walk the shifting territory of the capital. It is a route haunted by the unquiet voices of the city's many literary ghosts. With thirty-three stations and thirty-five miles to tramp - plus inevitable and unforeseen detours and false steps - he embarks on a marathon circumnavigation at street level, tracking the necklace of garages, fish farms, bakeries, convenience cafés, cycle repair shops and Minder lock-ups which enclose inner London.
'A delirious, often hilarious urban palimpsest where pin-sharp observation, cultural hauntings and offbeat memoir fuse in sentences that catch your breath' Independent
'A haunting vivisection of London. For the aficionado, London Overground will deliver all the delights of Sinclair's edgy and hard-edged prose, for those who do not know his work it is an accessible starting point for one of the most rewarding oeuvres in 21st-century literature' Scotland on Sunday
'Necessary and triumphant' Observer
'Utterly sincere, highly personal - and, for the most part, right' The Times Literary Supplement
'For my money the most crucial and most bar-adjusting voice currently resonating in the English language. Those who aspire to understand what is happening in modern writing should start here' Alan Moore
[Thumbnails of Lights Out for the Territory and London Orbital]See all Product description
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What we get is classic Sinclair. He uses the route (what's often forgotten in Sinclair's writing is how important the route is and, speaking as a long-tern Londoner reasonably familiar with the areas featured in most of his wanderings, just how accurately/uncannily he conjures up the sense of place of each area he passes through) as an opportunity to riff on (in no particular order), Hawskmoor (of course), Leon Kossoff, Angela Carter (particularly touching I thought), William Blake (of course), Princess Di (Will Carling, the Harbour Club, Oliver Hoare etc.), Boris Johnson, J.G. Ballard (of course), etc. etc.
He recalls eavesdropping on a conversation (post-work at the BBC) between Tim Piggott-Smith, Bill Paterson and Kenneth Cranham after they board the same train at Shepherd's Bush station. He reveals Kotting's (quite frankly) near-disgusting capacity for refuelling with food/drink at regular intervals and, of course, he ponders a world he finds repellent and fascinating in equal measure. This is the central feature of so much of Sinclair's writing - few writers appear to be more confused by the modern world and yet few, none in fact, see it as clearly as he does.
Some of the other reviews of this book confuse me but it's a free country and each to his own. For me though - I've said it before and I'll say it again - the finest non-fiction writer in the world, bar none, and this book only adds to the weight of evidence for that view.
This was my first encounter with the work of Iain Sinclair. I suspect that, for all the mixed feelings I experienced as I read this (there's no point just railing against market forces and their work), it won't be my last. It's not an easy read, stylistically, but it's certainly memorable and I'm glad I stuck with it...
He is often accused of being pretentious and self indulgent and without doubt there is enough evidence of that here, often this is a messy affair, his style can be dis-jointed and lack flow to the point he descends into pseudo poetry or half baked thoughts that don’t really go anywhere, it doesn’t come across as profound but instead like some rambling mad man shouting at you in the street.
His thoughts on various artists in various mediums were intriguing. I found the section on Angela Carter particularly interesting. Sinclair can write and when he chooses to he really shows us some lovely turns of phrases and some outstanding ways of describing his ever shifting landscape, painting some sublime images, adding razor sharp insight into the everyday. He is always political and sometimes funny when the mood takes him. Overall this is a worthwhile read but it certainly comes with its challenges.
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