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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars
3.1 out of 5 stars

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on 8 May 2017
Very pleased - trouble-free purchase and great value. I think Sinclair has been writing too much in recent years but I'm hoping that Ghost Milk is a return to form.
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on 27 June 2012
Sinclair goes out and sees what's there, and then comes back and tells us about it - like George Orwell did. Also he writes very well (ditto). He goes out and wanders around the Dome in Greenwich as TPTB wonder what to put in it, walks up the Thames to Oxford, drives around in the rain with an architect and a film maker. The architect has a brilliant plan for the north - he'll turn the M82 between Hull and Manchester into an American-style ribbon city consisting entirely of non-places: business parks, bowling alleys, supermarkets, burger bars. In the face of the patronising, opportunistic "regeneration" Sinclair discovers, this begins to appear quite attractive. At least you'd get a burger instead of a frozen fishcake in a godforsaken Italian restaurant in a "waterside development" that never quite happened. Money has been thrown at the north, eviscerated by the death of industry. It has created museums of nothing - huge showy "iconic" buildings, many now boarded up or surrounded by dog-patrolled perimeter fences. He was sure that Manchester's "marinas" now all boasted cafes and "bistros", but on a cold rainy night all he found was that doomed Italian eaterie. The regeneration money mainly went into the pockets of southerners who headed back home when the project withered and the money ran out. It's all a crying shame. And I'm disappointed that Amazon reviewers have done nothing more than titter at the title, which is silly. I think he's referring to the white smears that used to turn up on cheap coloured photographs, and suggesting that these regeneration projects are nothing more than meaningless smears on the landscape. How many artists' quarters do people need? Can you replace steelworks with coffee bars? Can you heck-as-like.
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on 2 April 2016
I am sorry really that I can only give this two stars. Overall, and 'overall' is to be very much taken as the operative word here, I mildly enjoyed it for want of a better phrase, but the book is riddled with uneven parallels, plus, it (the book) doesn't quite know what it is all about. Is it a memoir? Not entirely. Is it opinion on failed big projects? Here and there, yes, but not as much as the blurb suggests. There are also travel tales, anecdotes on other literary and arty worthies, whether in modern times involving the author, or historical.

All in all, it is quite simply, all over the place, literally and figuratively.

There is also the problem of delivery style, it is not constant. Some of the tale is about actual people, events, times, places etc, told in a simple straightforward manner. These are, just about, for me, the book's saving graces; I have to say I enjoyed these micro yarns. But, quite often the author drifts into a stuttery beat-poety style, waxing lyrical as if to save his life. Now, I ain't no Philistine, that is for sure, but for much of the arty-farty sections, I did not have a damned clue what the author was prattling on about, what he was trying to say. This was the spoiler. If he'd have kept it straight (at what point in Athens did the actual dogs become dog-like locals? for example), then it would have been much much better.

Shame. The bloke's obviously a great writer, you can glean that much, but his writing skills here were obviously on a fortnight's holiday in Rhyl, in early February.

Now if Bill Bryson had tackled the same subject matter . . .
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on 8 November 2012
i first heard of ian sinclair when the graphic novel writer alan moore mentioned in an interview that sinclair was his favorite living author, i decided to check him out and ordered this. its a wonderful read, its not a book to be rushed, you can come back to it , and reread chapters and find get something new from it. anybody studying to be an architect would do well to read and ponder this book
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on 5 January 2012
Another fascinating tour of the old places, such memories (and a few horrors) and an insight into the plans for the future of dear old London. Iain Sinclair is a man after my own heart - just wish I could write as well as he does!
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on 8 July 2012
The English love a moaner, as long as he doesn't challenge their habits or demand action. This is why Iain Sinclair has been able to publish so much weak non-fiction over the years - and make no mistake, that's all 'Ghost Milk' is (it's not a 'docu-novel' or part of an art project, whatever anyone half-heartedly claims).

Insights shared here include: Iain doesn't like the new buildings much; people at the council have got computers now; and "spam email - what's that all about?" There's a strong whiff of the Partridge throughout: substitute 'Hackney' for 'Norwich' and you'll see what I mean. Dull details of his daily wanders, meetings with small-time media contacts, complaints about the council you'd expect to hear from the Taxpayers' Alliance, a cancelled book reading, and a contretemps with a friendly French listings magazine - it's accidentally quite funny in places, read in Partridge's voice. That's the kind of survival tactic you'll need to develop to get through it. He wakes up a bit when discussing other writers, and remembers a couple of times to describe the light on the canal poetically, but these are very meagre rewards when spread across 430 pages.

The opening reminiscences about his Hackney life in the 70s are quite interesting, but they do remind you that he was an engaged, creative writer back then. His career since seems to reflect the decline he sees in the country quite neatly. I get the impression publishers have steadily become more brand conscious and commercially minded, and light reading like 'Ghost Milk' won't frighten any horses; it's basically bit of travel, local history and news speak mixed together - all idioms familiar from newspaper leisure sections - which must be why so much of it has been commissioned. And of course it gets him a gig as the "I think it is a bad thing" guy on pre-Olympics news coverage (he actually seems to hate everything, almost indiscriminately, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day). That's a much easier pitch than his previous, densely written fiction and esoteric poetry, because it's so bland; but he's not good enough company for it to be a pleasant read in that mode. Neither, sadly, is he doing anything creative or challenging enough to earn a grand label like 'psychogeography'. Psychological awareness is singularly lacking here, as is an insightful survey of the London landscape. Instead, we get endless moaning about the minutiae of our narrator's apparently very pleasant life.

He walks right past the big subjects without offering any useful perspective on them. He doesn't know much about architecture. He doesn't understand how politics and town planning work (he can't even tell the difference between New Labour's central government spin-masters and the local council). He doesn't give you any sense of how people's lives have changed during the Blair-Cameron years. There have been some great recent reads that get stuck into these issues and show this book up for the lazy work it is - Owen Hatherley's A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain, John Lanchester's Whoops! and Mark Fisher's Capitalist Realism spring immediately to mind.

Sinclair badly needs to put his feet up and come up with some new ideas if he's ever to write another word worth reading. (Cue a follow-up about the aftermath of the Olympics....)
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on 21 May 2015
Overly verbose bollocks. Repetitive in the extreme.
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on 28 January 2013
This is Sinclair's best book since "London Orbital".

Unlike "Hackney.....", I found a clear, consistent and cogent line of reasoning in this work, pretty much from the start. Yes, he's not the easiest writer in the world, and if you're not a frustrated psycho-geographer and don't share his obsessions and love of writers like Ballard/Moorcock and film makers like Chris Petit then his writing probably isn't for you but, yet again, I found myself putting the book down at the end of almost every chapter simply stunned by the quality of the writing.

A glorious return to form.
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on 8 July 2012
The review by 'Geoff' exactly sums up my thoughts. I wish it had been available before I threw my money away.

If Mr Sinclair had stuck to the book description we would maybe have had a half decent read. Instead of that, each chapter seems to set off in the intended direction before diverting into long winded anecdotes which have nothing to do with the subject, then shooting off several more times in different directions.Finally, if we are lucky, he returns more or less to his original subject, about which he has little to say, probably because he has wasted so much space on the irrelevant.

There were small moments of interest, but I found it extremely hard work, and in the end a waste of money and several hours of my time.
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