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John Sutherland, 18 November 1993

by Iain Banks.
Little, Brown, 313 pp., £15.99, September 1993, 0 316 90688 3
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Against a Dark Background 
by Iain M. Banks.
Orbit, 496 pp., £8.99, January 1994, 1 85723 185 6
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... Say ‘Iain Banks’ and the person you are talking to will say ‘The Wasp Factory.’ Banks may have as much trouble getting out from under the success of his first novel as did William Golding. It was a memorable debut. The Wasp Factory provoked a moral panic in 1984. The TLS critic called it the ‘literary equivalent of the nastiest kind of juvenile delinquency’; Margaret Forster thought it less a novel than the script for a video nasty ...

In Charge of the Tuck Shop

Sam Thompson: Iain Banks, 22 March 2007

The Steep Approach to Garbadale 
by Iain Banks.
Little, Brown, 390 pp., £17.99, March 2007, 978 0 316 73105 8
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... In interviews, Iain Banks has said that his new novel The Steep Approach to Garbadale was first imagined as a fantastical tale of multiple realities, in which characters would find themselves magically trapped inside a board game. The novel he has written instead is a family romance, set in the UK in 2005, and the board game it features is safely non-magical ...


Ian Sansom: Iain Banks, 5 December 2013

The Quarry 
by Iain Banks.
Little, Brown, 326 pp., £18.99, June 2013, 978 1 4087 0394 6
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... careers website, (a depressing but entirely reliable source, to which I direct my own eager students when they come to me for advice before wisely becoming arts administrators, baristas, or hedge-fund managers), the annual average income for professional writers aged 25-34 from writing alone is ...

Turns of the Screw

Hugh Barnes, 7 August 1986

Mating Birds 
by Lewis Nkosi.
Constable, 184 pp., £8.95, July 1986, 0 00 946724 6
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Lost Time 
by Catharine Arnold.
Hodder, 220 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 340 38783 1
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The Bridge 
by Iain Banks.
Macmillan, 259 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 333 41285 0
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Incidents at the Shrine 
by Ben Okri.
Heinemann, 130 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 434 53230 4
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Things fall apart 
by Chinua Achebe.
Heinemann, 150 pp., £3.50, July 1986, 0 435 90526 0
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The Innocents 
by Carolyn Slaughter.
Viking, 219 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 670 81016 9
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... imagination, and of accidents that proceed from it, is enhanced, however, by comparison with Iain Banks’s treatment of related matters in his new novel. Banks has made a name for himself as an unembarrassable master of the macabre, which he gleefully represented in The Wasp Factory and Walking on ...

Adventures at the End of Time

Angela Carter, 7 March 1991

by Iain Sinclair.
Paladin, 407 pp., £14.99, March 1991, 0 586 09074 6
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... Iain Sinclair, in the profane spirit of Surrealism, has chosen to decorate the endpapers of his new work of fiction with a dozen unutterably strange picture-postcards. They show scenes such as that of six men, heavily veiled, veils held down by brimmed hats, posed with long-barrelled rifles. And two men in grass skirts, with feathers in their hair, intent on a game of billiards ...


Iain Sinclair: Ronnie Kray bows out, 8 June 1995

... two street names: the shabby original and the new Tower Hamlets-approved version. New signs, in my experience, mean trouble. Cleanliness comes with a price. ‘Safe’ neighbourhoods and restored iron railings have to be paid for with Kray-style tithes. Ecobabble underwritten with brass knuckles. Tony Lambrianou is a spokesman for this new ...

Who’ll be last?

Jenny Diski, 19 November 2015

... If it were​ a race, the first man home – except for Iain Banks who won the trophy by a mile – would be Oliver Sacks (announced 19 February – died 30 August), with Henning Mankell (announced 17 January – died 5 October) a close second. Lisa Jardine won a race of her own, staying shtum publicly, her death a surprise except to the few who knew ...

Bad News

Iain Sinclair, 6 December 1990

by John Farrand.
Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 239 pp., $40, June 1990, 1 55670 134 9
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Weather Watch 
by Dick File.
Fourth Estate, 299 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 1 872180 12 4
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Climate Change: The IPCC Scientific Assessment 
edited by J.T. Houghton, G.J. Jenkins and J.J. Ephraums.
Cambridge, 365 pp., £40, September 1990, 9780521403603
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Crop Circles: The Latest Evidence 
by Pat Delgado and Colin Andrews.
Bloomsbury, 80 pp., £5.99, October 1990, 0 7475 0843 7
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The Stumbling Block, Its Index 
by B. Catling.
Book Works, £22, October 1990, 9781870699051
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... the capacity of crushing to zero the spirits of fragile, potentially suicidal personalities. Cloud banks absorb the hurt from wounded psyches, become leaden, withhold more of the light. We infect the skies with our own despair. And are infected in return. Unsuspected weather-allergies roam the city like serial-killers. Bad will generates a sympathetic storm. A ...


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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... representing a portion of the Lower Lea Valley, shrouded in surrounding folds of grey, reminds me of the Hoo Peninsula, a secretive landscape at the mouth of the Thames Estuary. I should be out there now. I have been brooding on Peter Ackroyd’s notion that the Thames is a river like the Ganges or the Jordan, a place of pilgrimage, a source of spiritual ...

Rodinsky’s Place

Patrick Wright, 29 October 1987

White Chappell: Scarlet Tracings 
by Iain Sinclair.
Goldmark, 210 pp., £12.50, October 1987, 1 870507 00 2
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... houses and exotic contrasts which has survived the levelling embrace of the welfare state. I made my first encounter with the contemporary perspectives of the place a few years ago when visiting Christ Church to attend a concert in the Spitalfields Festival. Just getting into the building proved interesting enough, not least because the approaching ...


Iain Sinclair: Out of Essex, 8 January 2004

... like the clammy interrogation of Soho, reconsidered urgency, loss of nerve. The printed card in my pocket depicts a stack of scarlet container units, a pylon, a purple sky. An invitation to an invisible art manifestation: Lost Memories by Emma Matthews. ‘Very elegant, very Paul Klee,’ the punters say. Rusting English metal, from somewhere down the ...

In Fife

Kathleen Jamie, 23 April 2015

... bowl in the Ochil hills, and is orientated almost exactly east-west. On its north and south banks grow sparse hawthorns tufted with lichen and old stunted oaks. At its western end, where the springs that feed the loch rise, Scots pines and larches dominate. On winter afternoons they stand silhouetted against the sunset. Because the loch was dammed to ...


Iain Sinclair: The Plutocrat Tour, 7 July 2022

... with pairs of butlers, cooks, cleaners, sailors and security operatives.Knowles’s book acted on me like a goad, a stone in the shoe. I had the notion that somewhere behind and beyond the sharp-eyed sociological expeditions she undertakes was a General Theory of Everything. A resolution of that terrible inundation coming from all sides at once: our ultimate ...

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 ...

The Raging Peloton

Iain Sinclair: Boris Bikes, 20 January 2011

... alongside the Regent’s Canal was mud, and forbidden to pedestrians and cyclists alike, I rode to my gardening job in Limehouse on a market wreck bought for £6. Gardeners and all-purpose open-air labourers were supposed to get around, between tea shack and workstation, on bicycles. Some students, anarchists and crusty food-for-free survivalists also chose to ...

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