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Scarp Hardcover – 21 Jun 2012
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'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.' (www.londonist.com)
'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.' (www.londoneer.org)
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)
An extraordinary book by a man with a unique and inspiring perspective, SCARP will change the way you view the places and spaces around you.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
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.
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.
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.
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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I admit it might not be for every one .Read more
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