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Diary

Iain Sinclair: Thatcher in Gravesend, 9 May 2013

... council house sell-off and the Poll Tax. ‘She turned the country around,’ the council leader, Andrew Bowles, said. ‘It was going to the dogs.’ Down at the shoreline, Southend glinting on the horizon, the dogs have won. They skulk, shit on the sand, drag reluctant walkers against the gusting breeze. Concrete steps leading down to the beach have been ...

Retro-Selfies

Iain Sinclair: Ferlinghetti, 17 December 2015

I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career: The Selected Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, 1955–97 
edited by Bill Morgan.
City Lights, 284 pp., £11.83, July 2015, 978 0 87286 678 2
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Writing across the Landscape: Travel Journals 1960-2010 
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, edited by Giada Diano and Matthew Gleeson.
Liveright, 464 pp., £22.99, October 2015, 978 1 63149 001 9
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... money and wider distribution. He regrets the loss, but maintains the friendship. ‘I hired Andrew Wylie to reconstruct my publishing life and get a New York publisher,’ Ginsberg announces in 1983, 27 years after the appearance of Howl and Other Poems. And then, a year later: ‘I told Andy to figure out a way that will leave everybody … not feeling ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945, 1 April 1999

The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... nothing happen, then the poetry anthology has no such self-effacing qualms. Blake Morrison and Andrew Motion knew this, as did the predecessor they were tussling with, A. Alvarez’s The New Poetry (which was tussling with its predecessor, Robert Conquest’s New Lines). ‘This anthology,’ they wrote in their preface to the Penguin Book of Contemporary ...

Everything Must Go!

Andrew O’Hagan: American Beauties, 13 December 2001

The Corrections 
by Jonathan Franzen.
Fourth Estate, 568 pp., £17.99, November 2001, 1 84115 672 8
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Ghost World 
directed by Terry Zwigoff.
August 2001
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Storytelling 
directed by Todd Solondz.
November 2001
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... the scions and the debris of the New Economy,1 but they are also, at their best, characters out of Sinclair Lewis and Theodore Dreiser, the sort of people who get up in the morning and count their change and wonder who they are. Yet something new did occur in the 1990s, and this newness is something the Franzen-type wants to approach at the level of the ...

Getting the Undulation

Benjamin Lytal: Willa Cather’s Letters, 20 February 2014

The Selected Letters of Willa Cather 
edited by Andrew Jewell and Janis Stout.
Knopf, 715 pp., £24, April 2013, 978 0 307 95930 0
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... honorary degrees, told her publishers which typeface to use, and stayed out of politics. When Sinclair Lewis won the first American Nobel Prize he said she should have got it instead. She was read by H.L. Mencken with ‘increasing joy’. She was also lampooned for writing in the style of the Ladies’ Home Journal, dismissed by modernist-minded critics ...

Vermin Correspondence

Iain Sinclair, 20 October 1994

Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play 
by Ben Watson.
Quartet, 597 pp., £25, May 1994, 0 7043 7066 2
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Her Weasels Wild Returning 
by J.H. Prynne.
Equipage, 12 pp., £2, May 1994
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... Atlantic Turbine, Douglas Oliver’s In the Cave of Suicession, Barry MacSweeney’s Brother Wolf, Andrew Crozier’s High Zero, Peter Riley’s Reader. Attempts have been made from time to time to prod the voluntary somnambulists. Peter Ackroyd, reviewing the anthology A Various Art, described Prynne as ‘without doubt the most formidable and accomplished ...

My Old, Sweet, Darling Mob

Iain Sinclair: Michael Moorcock, 30 November 2000

King of the City 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 421 pp., £9.99, May 2000, 0 684 86140 2
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Mother London 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 496 pp., £6.99, May 2000, 0 684 86141 0
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... Blair’s latest consensus hair policy, Lord Archer’s ironic, pre-penitentiary crop, the way Andrew Motion carries off his loden coat as he swirls between taxi and station platform. Julian Barnes’s novels are depilated at source, fat-free. Frisking them for a Moorcockian digression, a set of cellulite-heavy parentheses, would be like checking a tub of ...

Narco Polo

Iain Sinclair, 23 January 1997

Mr Nice: An Autobiography 
by Howard Marks.
Secker, 466 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 0 436 20305 7
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Pulp Election: The Booker Prize Fix 
by Carmen St Keeldare.
Bluedove, 225 pp., £12.99, September 1996, 0 9528298 0 0
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... it off – until Roman Polanski walked in with his usual compliment of nymphets. ‘Roman, this is Andrew Lloyd Webber.’ Time to run. The first chapter of the book, the prison time, was worked through many drafts. It’s the strongest, freshest aspect of the story. You know that Marks wrote it. He’s there, in the narration, not reporting on the video of a ...

Mandelson’s Pleasure Dome

Iain Sinclair, 2 October 1997

... and the English Tourist Board. You get the picture. A kind of mega musical set on a desert island (Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tempest). Something so new and adventurous and breathtakingly original that it can’t be described in language. That can only have a virtual existence. Existence as its own contrary, as non-existence. But what had slipped their mind, in ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: Eccentric Pilgrims, 30 June 2016

... towpath of the Lea Navigation towards the span of the M25 overpass at Rummey Marsh. The filmmaker Andrew Kötting, the driving force of the expedition, is a stocky alpha male with a deep trench of damage in his right leg after a motorcycle collision on the Old Kent Road. He is dressed in a sack of a suit covered with marker-pen Enochian symbols. On his head ...

Upriver

Iain Sinclair: The Thames, 25 June 2009

Thames: Sacred River 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Vintage, 608 pp., £14.99, August 2008, 978 0 09 942255 6
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... There were messages of endorsement from Lady Antonia Fraser and the feisty historian Andrew Roberts; the Economist saluted the new edition as ‘impeccably postmodern’; 5000 free copies were distributed to schools, a Trojan horse for early indoctrination in traditional values that would be reinforced by emphatic TV explainers vamping through ...

Customising Biography

Iain Sinclair, 22 February 1996

Blake 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 399 pp., £20, September 1995, 1 85619 278 4
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol I: Jerusalem 
editor David Bindman, edited by Morton D. Paley.
Tate Gallery, 304 pp., £48, August 1991, 1 85437 066 9
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. II: Songs of Innocence and Experience 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Andrew Lincoln.
Tate Gallery, 210 pp., £39.50, August 1991, 1 85437 068 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol III: The Early Illuminated Books 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Morris Eaves, Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 288 pp., £48, August 1993, 1 85437 119 3
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. IV: The Continental Prophecies: America, Europe, The Song of Los 
editor David Bindman, edited by D.W. Dörbecker.
Tate Gallery, 368 pp., £50, May 1995, 1 85437 154 1
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. V: Milton, a Poem 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 224 pp., £48, November 1993, 1 85437 121 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. VI: The Urizen Books 
 editor David Bindman, edited by David Worrall.
Tate Gallery, 232 pp., £39.50, May 1995, 9781854371553
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... A recent episode in a jobbing writer’s life found me interviewing Carolyn Cassady (author of Off the Road: Twenty Years with Cassady, Kerouac and Ginsberg) in her comprehensively occupied Belsize Park flat. The unreality of this situation – talking, shoulder to shoulder, with one of the Beat Generation’s best-preserved icons – was ameliorated by the fact that our paths had crossed a number of times over the last fifteen years ...

The Last London

Iain Sinclair, 30 March 2017

... a distance of more than thirty miles. I’d done this walk by daylight, a clockwise tramp with Andrew Kötting, filmmaker and unstoppable performer. Shortly after we’d completed our blistering marathon, Kötting was returning to his home in St Leonards-on-Sea when he was sideswiped, thrown from his motorbike on the Old Kent Road. He came close to losing ...

Mirror Images

Christopher Andrew, 3 April 1986

World of Secrets: The Uses and Limits of Intelligence 
by Walter Laqueur.
Weidenfeld, 404 pp., £25, November 1985, 0 297 78745 4
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... not the last ‘military man’ to head MI6 (he was succeeded by Major-General Sir ‘Sinbad’ Sinclair). Because source material on the current ‘uses and limits of intelligence’ is so much richer in the United States than elsewhere, there is inevitably a danger – which Laqueur recognises – that an analysis of the ‘World of Secrets’ will become ...

Fraynwaves

Hugh Barnes, 2 May 1985

Towards the End of the Morning 
by Michael Frayn.
Harvill, 255 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 00 221822 4
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Sweet Dreams 
by Michael Frayn.
Harvill, 223 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 00 221884 4
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The Fall of Kelvin Walker 
by Alasdair Gray.
Canongate, 144 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 9780862410728
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Lean Tales 
by James Kelman, Agnes Owens and Alasdair Gray.
Cape, 286 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 224 02262 8
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Stones for Ibarra 
by Harriet Doerr.
Deutsch, 214 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 9780233977522
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Family Dancing 
by David Leavitt.
Viking, 206 pp., £8.95, March 1985, 0 670 80263 8
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The Whitbread Stories: One 
by Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson.
Hamish Hamilton, 184 pp., £4.95, April 1985, 0 241 11544 2
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... Leavitt’s analysis can be painfully self-regarding, but it furnishes anguish with meaning. Andrew explains to Celia later on: ‘Growing up a fag is a strange thing. You never learn about boys’ bodies because you’re afraid of what you will feel and you never learn about girls’ bodies because you’re afraid of what you won’t feel.’ If ...

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