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Deadad

Iain Sinclair: On the Promenade, 17 August 2006

... From the balcony, seven floors above the coast road, I watch the pepper-grey beach disdain its nuisance presences: night-fishermen, scavengers sweeping the shingle with metal detectors for small change lost in the spasms of last night’s courtship rituals. Dog valets. Tai chi soloists. Convivial drinking schools, cans raised to the world, enjoying the last cocktail party in England before being tidied away into that sinister under-promenade with its extruded viewing chapels (tidemarks of bright blue tin ...

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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... This​ was a 42-year marriage of convenience between forgiving but frequently exasperated business partners and poetry rivals. It was launched with a seize-the-day telegram, after a one-night, earth-shuddering, world-tilting performance in a jazzed-up garage. Before moving on to occasional meetings and decades of dutiful, near conjugal correspondence from all parts of the globe ...

Off-Beat

Iain Sinclair, 6 June 1996

... There may be only two writers, currently at work in America, who can bring themselves, unblushing, to use the phrase ‘drinky poo’. Two Wodehousian renegades. One drops the words, like a pair of maraschino cherries, into his sunburst fiction. The other, a poet, whose work is his life, is happy to go either way: rhyme them or float them, with a winning question mark, at the conclusion of an in-your-face Greenwich Village monologue ...

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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... Did you write it yourself?’ That is the first question any visiting journo asks Howard Marks about his autobiography, Mr Nice. Marks suppresses a yawn. The morning is not really his time. He’s in the middle of a promotional binge, late nights, dry-throat blather; the anecdotes on autopilot. By temperament he’s the contrary of the Tory apparatchik in the radio car ...

You’ve got it or you haven’t

Iain Sinclair, 25 February 1993

Inside the Firm: The Untold Story of the Krays’ Reign of Terror 
by Tony Lambrianou and Carol Clerk.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.99, October 1992, 0 330 32284 2
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Gangland: London’s Underworld 
by James Morton.
Little, Brown, 349 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 356 20889 3
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Nipper: The Story of Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read 
by Leonard Read and James Morton.
Warner, 318 pp., £5.99, September 1992, 0 7515 0001 1
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Smash and Grab: Gangsters in the London Underworld 
by Robert Murphy.
Faber, 182 pp., £15.99, February 1993, 0 571 15442 5
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... Anthony Lambrianou, the self-confessed author of Inside the Firm: The Untold Story of the Krays’ Reign of Terror, admits that Ronnie Kray did shock him. Just once. An unforgettable occasion. A motor eased alongside Tony at the corner of Blythe Street, Bethnal Green. Ron and Reg were inside, keeping company with a known associate, Dickie Morgan. Reg was nicely cased in a blue three-piece by Woods of Kingsland Road ...

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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... It’s quite a popular secret, the Cambridge Poetry Festival; a roomful of freelance delegates, all capable of keeping their eyes to the front, on the platform – no droolers, no crisp packets. By Saturday afternoon, a certain mid-term weariness is evident (so many readings survived, so many still to come); the post-traumatic shock of being allowed into the showpiece ...

The Cadaver Club

Iain Sinclair, 22 December 1994

Original Sin 
by P.D. James.
Faber, 426 pp., £14.99, October 1994, 0 571 17253 9
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Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 282 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 1 85619 507 4
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The Hidden Files: An Autobiography 
by Derek Raymond.
Warner, 342 pp., £5.99, December 1994, 0 7515 1184 6
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Not till the Red Fog Rises 
by Derek Raymond.
Little, Brown, 248 pp., £15.99, December 1994, 0 316 91014 7
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... Baroness James, making a rare visitation to a blighted metropolitan zone, downriver of Tower Bridge, has written a very useful book, a book on which I will be happy to draw for years to come. That was back in 1972. Title? The Maul and the Pear Tree; co-authored by T.A. Critchley of the Police Department at the Home Office, where James then earned her crust as a Principal in the Criminal Policy Department ...

Who is Stewart Home?

Iain Sinclair, 23 June 1994

... Aline of brightly painted stone cottages, out there at the end of the world, beyond Allihies in West Cork. The cottages have been extensively tampered with, knocked through, until they form a single unit, set square to the prevailing on-shore winds. The occupier, New York-born to a childhood in John Cheever commuting country, now reinvented as a Vietnam-vintage Irish citizen, removes all the offending oil paintings from the wall: jewelled landscapes in oil; lively, naive renderings of the headland on which the cottages have been built ...

If I Turn and Run

Iain Sinclair: In Hoxton, 1 June 2000

45 
by Bill Drummond.
Little, Brown, 361 pp., £12.99, March 2000, 0 316 85385 2
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Crucify Me Again 
by Mark Manning.
Codex, 190 pp., £8.95, May 2000, 0 18 995814 6
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... Here they come, marching north out of Spitalfields, stride for stride in hallucinatory ordinariness, the celebrated living sculptures, Gilbert and George. It’s an English spring afternoon and they have dressed for it in country formal outfits: stout boots, long, brown chequerboard coats with too many buttons, furry headwarmers that flap down over their ears ...

Mandelson’s Pleasure Dome

Iain Sinclair, 2 October 1997

... It gets me every time. That hallucinatory instant. Da da da da da, da da. The Pearly Queen drill of the EastEnders signature tune, as the map spins and the known world is stood on its head; what you thought was the blunt lingam of the Isle of Dogs is revealed as the East Greenwich peninsula. That vertiginous, and slightly desperate, readjustment of consciousness is what you face as you emerge, high on diesel fumes, road rage and subterranean paranoia, from the tiled bore of the Blackwall Tunnel ...

Hopi Mean Time

Iain Sinclair: Jim Sallis, 18 March 1999

Eye of the Cricket 
by James Sallis.
No Exit, 190 pp., £6.99, April 1998, 1 874061 77 7
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... Jim Sallis is the one who isn’t Bill Clinton’s official favourite purveyor of fiction, although his sequence of crime novels featuring the New Orleans polymath Lew Griffin (writer, melancholic, occasional lecturer in French Lit, sometime PI and full-time avatar of the author) has plenty of superficial similarities to Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins project ...

Museums of Melancholy

Iain Sinclair: Silence on the Euston Road, 18 August 2005

... Research into the background of my wife’s family, the Hadmans, brought me up against an obscure wall in King’s Cross Station. Anna’s father reckoned that the Hadmans were related to the poet John Clare, who came from Helpston, a village near their own. Our investigation drew many previously unknown Hadmans from the ground where they had lain, undisturbed, for hundreds of years ...

Dysfunctional Troglodytes with Mail-Order Weaponry

Iain Sinclair: Edward Dorn, 11 April 2013

Collected Poems 
by Edward Dorn.
Carcanet, 995 pp., £25, November 2012, 978 1 84777 126 1
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... The publication in Britain of Edward Dorn’s Collected Poems is a big moment, a bonfire of the verities, for the embattled tribe of local enthusiasts, veterans of old poetry wars who are still, more or less, standing. Dorn’s face is news again, live and loud, on a cover laid out like a wanted poster, or the freeze-frame of a sun-bounced downhill skier, against a backcloth of enlarged script (his own words, not the usual blizzard of corporate logos ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: Eccentric Pilgrims, 30 June 2016

... To the rat-a-tat-tat​ of a drum, they march on London. Climate protesters? Milk-price complainers taking inspiration from their cousins across the Channel? Some historical re-enactment rump? It must be charity. Look at the cameras. There aren’t enough of them to bring out Boris Johnson, who never failed, in all the years of his mayoralty, to insert himself on the television ‘news where you are’ for London: in hardhat, bicycle helmet, scrumcap squashed down on the finger-flicked golden mopflop of thuggish charm ...

The Coat in Question

Iain Sinclair: Margate, 20 March 2003

All the Devils Are Here 
by David Seabrook.
Granta, 192 pp., £7.99, March 2003, 9781862075597
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... Yet the dream he describes is a traveller’s nightmare: Englishness lost, identity cancelled, fatal infection,’ David Seabrook writes of Thomas De Quincey. Of himself, the dole-queue De Quincey, making a high-velocity, long-term progress through the Isle of Thanet. More speed, less haste: Seabrook is a master of the throwaway put-down, a speculator in tachist topography ...

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