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3.5 out of 5 stars
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3.5 out of 5 stars
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on 18 February 2009
I heard a reading of this book on BBC Radio 4 (UK). I find it hard to explain what I think after hearing the reading. I suppose a mixture of boredom, confusion and irritation would honestly sum it up. This book seems to me to parade as an intelligent work, when in fact the language is contrived, verbose and frankly tedious. I tried extremely hard to listen carefully, but found, despite my best efforts, my mind drifting alarmingly, due to the sheer awfulness of the sentence construction and what appears to be an effort to impress using as many obscure words as possible. I read a lot, and there are so very many good works of literature out there, that it leads me to ask: Why bother with this? This is not writing. It is pretentious book by bad writer.
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on 30 November 2010
This book is wonderful. His wrtiting is fresh and well paced. His sentences are enjoyable and full of warmth. The depiction of Hackney is perfect.
Having read the negative reviews of this book they are wholly inaccurate. They are more likely failed writers taking shots at Sinclair in the time honoured of a review. These reviews are bitter, tired and cliched.
Read the book. It is great.
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on 3 April 2009
I embarked upon this book with some trepidation. I'm a Sinclair fan and feel he has been overlooked by prize givers, partly because of the thorniness of his meticulously crafted prose and the no holds barred obsession with the obscurities of London geography, as well as its lesser heralded artists, writers and film makers. A six hundred page book on the subject of just a single London borough promised to try all bar the most attentive of readers and I was ready to be disappointed. Had he gone too far this time?

Not so. This is a compelling account of a borough on the point of transformation due to the 2012 Olympics. His exploration of diverse neighbourhoods such as de Beauvoir Town, Dalston, Homerton and Hackney Wick really gets under the surface of these places. Interviews pepper the text and provide enjoyable relief from the more literary sentences constructed by Sinclair himself. Among the interviewees are Astrid Proll and Will Self; among the anecdotes are tales involving Orson Welles, the Mole Man of Mortimer Road, Jean Luc Godard and Julie Christie. Sure, the usual cast of Sinclair's characters all make an appearance - Stewart Home, Ian Askead, Chris Petit - and some of them are occasionally shoehorned into the text unnecessarily, but overall, this is a great account of seventies anarchism, renegade GPs, soaring crime and brutal gentrification. Perhaps the best tribute I can pay is the fact that it inspired me, book in hand, to make several expeditions into the borough in order to check out the places referred to at first hand.
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on 19 March 2009
Along with London Orbital I wouldn't trust anyone who didn't enjoy this book, in fact I'd be very suspicious of them, you should be n'all
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on 21 March 2009
Autobiographical effort form Iain Sinclair which is both intelligible (!) and yet includes plenty of his unique clobbering descriptions.
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