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Strange Labyrinth: Outlaws, Poets, Mystics, Murderers and a Coward in London's Great Forest Hardcover – 6 Apr 2017

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (6 April 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1783783435
  • ISBN-13: 978-1783783434
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

'Strange Labyrinth, a reckoning with the 'outlaws, poets, mystics, murderers' of Epping Forest, is interwoven with other elements in an account that soon shifts from documentation - a cultural guidebook [...] - to a delirious fiction of doctored memory and free association... [A] timely survey [that] honours some of those [characters of Epping Forest]' -- Book of the Week Review, Guardian by Iain Sinclair

'An anarchic hymn to the scruffy edgeland of Epping Forest, the ancient wood that sits on the boundary between London and Essex... Fascinating... [A] glorious book you'll enjoy getting lost in' -- Observer

'Ashon [writes] with verve and a winning candour about his own fearful nature, as he makes his meandering way between the trees' --New Statesman

'I can't begin to tell you how intrigued I am by this book... Ashon's strange brew of nature writing, memoir, psychogeography and punk history has a very anarchic feel to it' -- Bookseller

'Strange Labyrinth is a wonderful exploration of the tangled undergrowth of the psyche. Ashon is an anarchic Green Man; a puckish punk of the forests and here he has invented a new genre: Gonzo Romanticism' -- Jon Day

'Wilder than Macfarlane, funnier than Deakin and more emotionally engaged that Sebald, Will Ashon turns getting lost in the forest into high art, and great entertainment. By the end you'll probably be looking for a berth up a tree alongside him'-- Matt Thorne

'I found it mercilessly lucid, wildly expansive yet down-to-earth, and misanthropic as only books with real heart can be. There's tendency to treat psychogeography as a form of archaeology but he bypasses anything resembling fossils for a more intriguing, irreverant and animated approach. These are fragments of the past brought to life in the present, and a fascinating, cynical yet wide-eyed and inspiring, despite itself, present set in the greater scheme of things. A journey into the dark and terrible maze that is Englang with a guide much Minotaur as Theseus' -- Darran Anderson

'From John Clare to Crass, Will Ashon unearths magic in a forest that is more than mere harbour and hide-out for dissidents, dreamers, poets and outlaws, but which represents an entire narrative strand of an ever-changing England. Here is deep questing into both person and place, masterfully delivered' -- --Benjamin Myers

'Strange Labyrinth treads its own path. It is a literary provocation, a defence of the disorderly narrative, and a call to get more lost' --Caught by the River

About the Author

WILL ASHON was born in Leicester in 1969. Having worked as a music journalist, he founded the record label Big Dada Recordings in 1996, which he ran for over fifteen years, signing acts like Roots Manuva, Wiley, Diplo, Kate Tempest and Young Fathers and, in the process, winning the Mercury Music Prize twice. He also published two novels with Faber & Faber, Clear Water and The Heritage. He currently lives in Walthamstow, north east London.

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Format: Hardcover
This is a highly engaging read. Ashon wanders off the path in the forest and comes back with something interesting and important to tell us. Yes this is book with a fair amount of history in it (much of it fascinating) but it is by now means confined to this. Neither is it just about the forest as a place. Instead Ashon unearths very pertinent questions about the world around us and asks us to consider how the world we live in has been divided up and the effect of this on us and our imagination. Along the way Ashon opens the door on a variety of colourful (real) characters and through them a picture emerges. I should also say that it is frequently funny and and Ashon is a very engaging character is his own work.

I wasn't sure exactly what to expect but was very soon also lost in the woods. A surprising find from a very original voice and one that I have thoroughly enjoyed. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Gripping, unusual and fascinating wander through Epping forest meeting the strange characters that haunt it. Whether he's leading us through magic, murder and madness, or anarchists, dogging and trespass, Ashon is a sage yet wry, often self-deprecating guide through an area enchanted with stories.
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