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luka
10-03-2005, 10:11 AM
well?

(don't neglect my saul bellow thread though)

jenks
10-03-2005, 11:38 AM
it seems it is my job to be the first to respond to yr lit qs.
i started reading sinclair when i lived in grays - all that downriver stuff just seemed to fit perfectly - the opening chapter set in the world's end pub in tilbury, conrad obsessions etc. i have read pretty much his complete oevre and think he is one of our great prose stylists. at his best he nails the nowness of now - london orbital and parts of dining on stones for example. however there are times when the reader is led into a dense thicket of words where meaning seems to have been lost - radon daughters for example. i still think his best book is lights out for the territory as he somehow manages to maintain hardcore psychgeography with reader friendly prose - his account of the krays funeral really lays that old 'they were goood to their mums' myth once and for all.
also his poetry is very good - lud heat and white chappel are electric and his collection flesh eggs and scapl metal is worth a look. finally he edited a very good anthology of modern poetry - prynne etal - conductors of chaos.
i have seen a few readings he has done and is very engaging and entertaining - very self-deprecating

henrymiller
10-03-2005, 12:35 PM
i think one problem with sinclair is his 'outsider' stance: throughout 'lights out' he's bitching and pissing about channel 4 commissioning policy ect ect, which is okay as far as it goes, but now that sinclair is a penguin author and fairly well treated by television and press, the pose looks a bit lame. he's a bit like an mc, using his nonfiction to boost all his mates (ahoy! kevin jackson!) which is a bit cliquey, especially since he's so keen on trashing amis, mcewan, et al -- note that his criticism of these guys is often about their connections and success and gang-ness rather than their stuff as such. sometimes his prose is a bit indigestible, but it's really about sharing his obsessions with london arcana. if you're not taken in, then he's not for you. ie not for me.

jenks
10-03-2005, 02:38 PM
and he calls the A13 a celestial highway

Jim Daze
10-03-2005, 02:51 PM
Radons Daughter was hard work but I finished it, a bit like eating spinach. I did come away with a vague sense of what happend, you know colors, fragments of memory and stuff.

I think if you live in the area that he writes about it helps you see it in a different light, i.e. not completley grey and shit; in that respect I.S. is a fantastic writer and one that has inspired me into some uncharterd backwaters. Big up yourself Mr Sinclair, haven't read any of his very latest work though, any good?

Grievous Angel
10-03-2005, 02:53 PM
I'm a fan, though I think he's better at paragraphs than books.

I think I like all the things that irritate Henry Miller -- what he calls "clique-y-ness", I call "bigging up Stewart Home" -- which is alright by me!

owen
10-03-2005, 06:05 PM
very keen on the unashamedness of stuff like eg describing the A13 as a celestial highway. there's no cop-out or metaphor.

he can tend towards jeremiads (like the little book about the dome, 'sorry meniscus' which is just brilliant apocalyptic polemic) but i LIKE jeremiads....there's a sense with his recent stuff (especially in 'london orbital') that britain is becoming an extremely unpleasant place....that bit in the film of london orbital on bluewater, just chills the fucking blood.

but yeah he can be pompous and overly self-referential but if its him vs mcewan and amis, well.....

jimet
10-03-2005, 06:21 PM
Everyone I like (Moorcock, Gibson...) loves him, but I find his fiction dull and unreadable and pompous. Lights Out has some great stuff, but even there I dunno; I've walked around the East End for weeks on end myself, so what, y'know? I don't buy his mythos, is the thing.

luka
10-03-2005, 06:42 PM
i like him a lot by the way. i cant be fucke defending him a the moment though, maybe later when i get more bored

jenks
10-03-2005, 08:03 PM
i think that what he is good at is flaying the city - peeling its skin off to reveal the gore underneath - i don't necessarily buy into his mythos but i do love the idea of his continuation of a blakean visionary lineage- someone who sees his writing as prophecy (there's an excellent review in an angela carter collection btw). also he can be so fucking right so often - his description of ukip as 'asylum deniers' is both funny and apt as a collolory of 'asylum seekers'
could go on but in the end he is a marmite writer

craner
10-03-2005, 08:09 PM
Saul Bellow vs. F Scott Fitgerald.

Shapiro says that Augie March smashes The Great Gatsby.

luka
10-03-2005, 08:12 PM
this is the sinclair thread craner, bloody hell! the bellow thread is to be found under the heading 'Saul Bellow' I've got Augie March waiting for you. I'm reading Humboldts Gift.

craner
10-03-2005, 08:13 PM
Oh yeah! Ha! Typical!

I was just reading all this stuff and dreaming aloud.

Darn.

jenks
10-03-2005, 08:36 PM
Saul Bellow vs. F Scott Fitgerald.

Shapiro says that Augie March smashes The Great Gatsby.

if that's the case i'm going to have to put down my current read and hit augie straight away - though i can't quite see the point of comparision between fitz and saul but i'm willing to be proved wrong
ps who is shapiro?

luka
10-03-2005, 08:44 PM
shapiro, may or may not exist. i suspect its a fictional charcter craner has invented for his own amusement. he's a militant zionist from hendon who rots craners brain by forcing him to work his way through absurd reading lists, strauss, bloom, neo-con screeds, sub machievellian rants etc

craner
10-03-2005, 08:45 PM
Shapiro is the most famous Lithuanian South African Jew on Charing Cross Road.

He's writing a marvellous novel based on his life called Schmuck.

I respect his opinion and consult him on many issues; in return, I give him advice on how to deal with crazy women.

craner
10-03-2005, 08:47 PM
Yeah. Shapiro got me into Carl Schmitt.

fldsfslmn
11-03-2005, 09:16 AM
Iain Sinclair is the author who has most damaged my own ability to write, yet I love his work. Short sentences. Asserting. Themselves. On my prose.

Rambler
11-03-2005, 09:29 AM
I went to see that M25 thing he did with Bill Drummond and what not. Thought that was a bit of disappointment. Too unfocused, and no one involved really turned in a great performance.

Picked up Lights Out in Oxfam a while back and read it in Autumn last year. Yes, he is dense reading, and I don't buy the notion that looking around closely at the city around you deserves a pompous title like psychogeography or whatever. But there is something to what he does that I do love; the power of chance and accumulation. The layers of urban existence. That sort of thing seems very true to me; archaeology, the archive. It's something that appeals to me from reading too much Cage and Foucault I guess, but Sinclair does turn it all to good effect - even if he does ramble on about his mates too much, you start to wonder how much Chris Petit is paying for all the product placement...

And I really liked the chapter on Jeffrey Archer.

jenks
11-03-2005, 10:29 AM
those petit films though - robinson and robinson in space are phenomenal though aren't they, he (petit) also wrote a novel called robinson as well which i really loved. agree about some of his name dropping of obscure film makers and poets but i think that is also part of the culture he has come out of - late sixties art house cinema and poetry nexus i have never managed to see a stan brakhage (sp?!?) but feel i know loads about him because of sinclair
the book liquid london which he co-produced with his photographer marc atkins is worth an investigation. the archer stuff made me laugh ( the arrogance of the man, he turns down a print from atkins cos he has plenty of pix of the thames already) somehow sinclair kind of blags his way into places through sheer charm alone - the guardian like to call him a literary skinhead but somehow this does not do justice to his subtle insinuations into the edifices of power - an opportunity for a literary heist, smuggling his valuable insights back out before he is caught - a writer on the run (i agree about the comment on the effect of his prose style - both sinclair and hst have ruined mine)

Rambler
11-03-2005, 11:05 AM
To be honest I haven't seen much of Petit's stuff, but I thought his film of the M25 (which ran as a backdrop throughout the entire show) was the strongest part of that whole thing.

Melmoth
11-03-2005, 12:44 PM
I don't think Sinclair can write at all. He's not capable of constructing a sentence beyond one or two clauses composed mostly of adjectives: when he does it his prose loses any power and distinction it might have. The same goes for the overall architecture of his books - there isn't one - there's just the rubble of his own ranting nerdy obsessions (eg Jack the Ripper. Need I say more?). And I see he has once again wheeled out the tiredest of postmodernist tropes - a book about someone writing a book - in his latest novel, How many times has he done that now? He thinks he is a satirist but his books have no ethical weight. Its all sub-sub-sub Burroughs laced with some incredibly dubious politics (check Downriver's description of Banglatown for example).

craner
12-03-2005, 11:23 AM
He's not capable of constructing a sentence beyond one or two clauses composed mostly of adjectives

Yes indeed!

xero
12-03-2005, 12:48 PM
those petit films though - robinson and robinson in space
I think you might be confusing Petit with Patrick Keillor who made Robinson in Space & London. I caught some of Petit & Sinclair's film 'The falconer' on TV once and didn't realise that that was what it was at first, just thought what is this pretentious crap - but I found a lot of Lights Out pretty interesting and it has opened up interest in a broader range of aspects of the city than Peter Ackroyd. I've only tried his fiction once and judging by the comments upthread made the wrong choice in Radon Daughters, it's almost comically unreadable & dense. I also find it annoying that he has co-opted the term psychogeography (and this has been further diluted by will self) such that it now is taken to mean a kind of literary-historical reading of urban areas which seems so much more mundane than the possibilities suggested by the situationists

jenks
12-03-2005, 03:03 PM
I think you might be confusing Petit with Patrick Keillor who made Robinson in Space & London.
yes you're right minusone - don't know what came over me - schoolboy error, shan't happen again (mutter, mutter, credibility in tatters.....) :o

k-punk
13-03-2005, 09:13 AM
I want to like Sinclair, but I can't, except in patches. His description of Bluewater in London Orbital, for instance, is wonderful.

But, in general, his writing is not only obscure, it is obscurantist - deliberately making an equivalence between 'poetic' and 'difficult'. For me, the most poetic writing is always the most lucid, and if I have to try hard to read something - whether it be theory or literature - I want some reward. With Sinclair, I just feel frustrated and bored - out of the know. You can rarely settle into the writing; you're always being ushered off to the next unexplained allusion, always left with the impression that there must be something more here than you are ever seeing. I like the connections he makes (but the people he links together - Moorcock, Ballard, Ackroyd, even Alan fucking Moore - are infinitely better writers than him, precisely because they retain a pulp narrative engine), I like the walking methodology, I like the idea of it: but the writing itself always disappoints.

Heronbone is much better, I really mean that.

soup
13-03-2005, 11:20 AM
Anyone who has a problem with Sinclair's style, but is nevertheless interested in the stuff he writes about, might like to hunt down 'A Journey Through Ruins : The Last Days of London' by Patrick Wright. Wright, I gather, is a buddy of Sinclair's, and I've always considered his book as being a more sober companion to 'Lights Out'.

henrymiller
14-03-2005, 09:20 AM
i saw 'from hell' (the movie) at the weekend. i think sinclair had hated on it because it wasn't filmed in london and was made by americans (oh no!). it was a great film, one of the best about victorian london i've ever seen.

mms
14-03-2005, 05:56 PM
i saw 'from hell' (the movie) at the weekend. i think sinclair had hated on it because it wasn't filmed in london and was made by americans (oh no!). it was a great film, one of the best about victorian london i've ever seen.

have you read the book tho?
it's fascinating. esp the pages and pages of insightful references , like a dvd extra with legs.

henrymiller
15-03-2005, 10:33 AM
no, i'd like to, but it's not really relevant to the film. i re-read sinclair's piece and it only convinced me that he's totally parochial, and i was a bit dismayed by the general reaction to the fact that it was made by the dirtectors of 'menace II society' -- sinclair just assumed they were working in bad faith.

xero
15-03-2005, 12:41 PM
henrymiller where is sinclair's writing on from hell? I'd be interested to read it

henrymiller
15-03-2005, 01:58 PM
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,639883,00.html

fldsfslmn
15-03-2005, 06:11 PM
Holy crap ... Two sentences in to an Iain Sinclair film review and I'm already lost.

xero
15-03-2005, 11:12 PM
thanks for the link hm - it's vintage sinclair really isn't it? evoking all sorts of things without ever really bothering to make a cogent critique of the film but sporadically interesting and informative nonetheless - I reckon he actually quite liked it

worrior
16-03-2005, 12:21 PM
Sinclair apparently spends most of his time in Hastings nowadays - moving out from the centre as London expands to fill a post-M25 concentric circle including places in commuter reach, such as Hastings. What I'd like to do is get a crack team together and go round Hastings cleverly inserting symbols/writings mysteriously on walls and buildings, recognising ley-lines and manipulating local urban stories/myths. Then wait for his new book on the area... :p

jenks
15-02-2009, 11:39 AM
Sinclair has a new one out - based on Hackney.

Here's the opening para:L


We are the rubbish. Outmoded and unrequired. Dumped on wet
pavings and left there for weeks, in the expectation of becoming
art objects, a baleful warning. Nobody pays me to do this. It is my
own choice, to identify with detritus in a place that has declared
war on unconvinced recyclers while erecting expensive memorials
to the absence of memory. This is a borough that has dedicated
itself to obliterating the meaning of shame.

you can downlaod the whole chapter via the LRB

D84
15-02-2009, 01:44 PM
thanks for the link hm - it's vintage sinclair really isn't it? evoking all sorts of things without ever really bothering to make a cogent critique of the film but sporadically interesting and informative nonetheless - I reckon he actually quite liked it

You reckon? That last paragraph seem quite trenchant:

Where Alan Moore can float Kelly's escape as a wistful potentiality, Hollywood needs a clear finish. An up-beat resolution. From Hell returns to source, as a penny-dreadful, a shocker; a distortion of place and time. An industrial product crafted to stand alongside the wave of predatory development that maligns history and treats the past as the final colony in the American world empire.

Great review though - I didn't like From Hell fwiw

craner
25-03-2009, 04:06 PM
I was re-reading bits of London Orbital recently. This book is still firmly locked in 2003 for me, it gave me flaskbacks! I find his style even more transparent and limited now (know more, write better, than before etc), but these books are still magic. Especially if you have spent any time traversing East London canals and wastelands and rivers with insane and talented friends.

The first page of this thread is just ridiculous, by the way.

craner
25-03-2009, 04:29 PM
Downriver and White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings both appear to be out of print. Those guys at Penguin are so slack!

fokse vektaire xeven
01-04-2009, 03:13 AM
Especially if you have spent any time traversing East London canals and wastelands and rivers with insane and talented friends.

Yes isn't life in your 20s exceptional- a filmic sequence of seratoninotinous polaroid snapshots, budding intellects at full throttle...

a desperate kind of groovy!

As pornography is to erotica, so life in your 20s is to reality.

All of which reminds me "craner"- I saw your uncle yesterday- he was pushing a pram full of greasy old newspapers round Catford in lederhosen.



The first page of this thread is just ridiculous, by the way.

it seems to be getting more ridiculous by the post.
I saw the London Orbital video just recently, worth a look, though unfortunately now tainted by the Audi advert Sinclair did- I kept on expecting him to say, "Especially in a car as comfortable as this one". But he didn't.
Nonetheless there is the notion of ecstasy as a third of Thatcherisms' invisible triangle, with attendant interviews...

Lud Heat really is very good as well. It has the quality of channeling. One of those books you can have around and open at random.

& you only have to write one book after all.

Slothrop
11-04-2012, 01:07 PM
Bring this one back from the dead...

I'm partway through Lights Out For The Territory, and I still can't decide whether it's brilliant or a pile of self-important balls - or possibly somewhere in the middle. I wonder whether it made more sense in the years before you could read about all this "secret history" stuff on wikipedia and a host of blogs - when esoterica really was esoteric?

Also, I think this comment from China Mieville's BLDGBLOG interview is quite interesting and on point:


Novelists have an endless drive to aestheticize and to complicate. I know there’s a very strong tradition—a tradition in which I write, myself—about the decoding of the city. Thomas de Quincey, Michael Moorcock, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Iain Sinclair—that type-thing. The idea that, if you draw the right lines across the city, you’ll find its Kabbalistic heart and so on.

The thing about that is that it’s intoxicating—but it’s also bullshit. It’s bullshit and it’s paranoia—and it’s paranoia in a kind of literal sense, in that it’s a totalizing project. As long as you’re constantly aware of that, at an aesthetic level, then it’s not necessarily a problem; you’re part of a process of urban mythologization, just like James Joyce was, I suppose. But the sense that this notion of uncovering—of taking a scalpel to the city and uncovering the dark truth—is actually real, or that it actually solves anything, and is anything other than an aesthetic sleight of hand, can be quite misleading, and possibly even worse than that. To the extent that those texts do solve anything, they only solve mysteries that they created in the first place, which they scrawled over the map of a mucky contingent mess of history called the city. They scrawled a big question mark over it and then they solved it.

Also, re his prose style, I think it would improve, if someone went to his house, and wired up the comma key, on his keyboard / typewriter, to a small electric shock machine.

viktorvaughn
11-04-2012, 02:32 PM
Has anyone got a link to his beef with Ian McEwan that is referred to earlier in the thread?

I've started 4 and finished 1 (the Hackney one).

He is a good and entertaining speaker, tho, would recommend him in the flesh. Funnier than on paper.

The Hackney one I could relate to a bit, knowing the area, whereas the Ghost Milk one goes into grumpy old man territory a bit too much, the modern world is a bit shit, oh and by the way here are 20 pages of a Chinese poets thoughts on living in the Lea valley.

I think regards the quote below I never read him literally, in the sense that he was actually uncovering some objective or hidden truths, more just wallowing in his own enjoyable mystic/tangential readings...

luka
11-04-2012, 02:58 PM
i think hes a very bad speaker. terribly timid. i cant deal with that in a public speaker. its endearing at any other time. not when someone is supposed to entertain you.
the books get increasingly middlebrow. the hackney one was actually offensive. the new one is even worse. lights out is where the rot sets in but its not a bad book. its lightweight but its good. white chappel, lud heat and suicide bridge are all very good. after that its all an erudite form of journalese.

viktorvaughn
11-04-2012, 03:09 PM
i think hes a very bad speaker. terribly timid. i cant deal with that in a public speaker. its endearing at any other time. not when someone is supposed to entertain you.

Really? Weird. I've seen him like 4 times and he seemed fairly assured. He's got a bit of a middle class, self depreciating, brainy uncle thing going on in in manner but under pinned with a bit of confidence, humour and erudition...

Having said that the one thing he wasn't great at was a big thing at South Bank Centre, whereas the other three or so times I've seen him speak were in really small local bashes, poetry nights etc so maybe it's the scale thing? Probs more confident preaching to the converted/hardcore at a thing on Hackney than a bigger one at SBC promoting his book.

luka
12-04-2012, 09:08 AM
i saw him at stratford library where he was outshone by a more confident and fluent patrick wright, who wrote a better book about hackney. i

luka
01-05-2012, 10:18 AM
i like the book the swedenborg society put out. its good. about blake.

luka
01-05-2012, 10:19 AM
http://swedenborgsociety.wordpress.com/new-books/blakes-london-the-topographic-sublime-iain-sinclair/

luka
01-05-2012, 10:20 AM
its a gentle book but a lovely one. ghost milk was unreadable and the hackney book was twee. this restored some of my faith in him, although there was nothing new there.

Slothrop
01-05-2012, 10:31 AM
So are all the artist-poet-visionary types he talks about in Lights Out - Gavin Jones, Aidan Dun, Chris Petit etc - actually the great lost visionaries of our age, or is he just puffing his mates? Patrick Keiller I like...

viktorvaughn
01-05-2012, 11:55 AM
So are all the artist-poet-visionary types he talks about in Lights Out - Gavin Jones, Aidan Dun, Chris Petit etc - actually the great lost visionaries of our age, or is he just puffing his mates? Patrick Keiller I like...

I saw Chris Petit at a talk with IS and they were reminiscing/bitching about how they used to get commissioned to make docs by the BBC but it didn't happen any more. Not hugely interesting but ok.

Then I watched Petit's film Radio On which I found extremely boring.

Have you read Patrick Wright's A Journey through Ruins? IS bigs it up all the time and it is good. Fascinating reading about Dalston in the 80s. Each chapter is a bit like a self-contained essay and the topics vary widely from Bow Quarter (currently in the news cos missiles are going to positioned there for the Olympics) and it's changing status and occupation through 80s and perceived yuppies moving there to fluoride in the water.

luka
01-05-2012, 12:02 PM
wrights book is very good. kellior is very good but yes, it is essentially nepotism.

luka
22-10-2013, 12:53 PM
Yes isn't life in your 20s exceptional- a filmic sequence of seratoninotinous polaroid snapshots, budding intellects at full throttle...

a desperate kind of groovy!

As pornography is to erotica, so life in your 20s is to reality.

All of which reminds me "craner"- I saw your uncle yesterday- he was pushing a pram full of greasy old newspapers round Catford in lederhosen.

lool.

craner
22-10-2013, 01:49 PM
I remember that assault.

rubberdingyrapids
22-10-2013, 02:07 PM
king-mob.net

he's doing a series of film screenings...

john smith's hackney marshes from 1976 (anyone here seen it?) is showing tonight - considering going if i feel less ill in the next few hours...