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
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.
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?
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.....
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.
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
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?
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
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...
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)