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At Annely Juda

Iain Sinclair: Leon Kossoff, London Landscapes, 6 June 2013

... Silent, heavy doors open on a line of dense and minatory charcoal drawings, linked like coal trucks, and arranged on the floor in a provisional order – I visited before the all-encompassing Leon Kossoff show, London Landscapes, opened last month (it closes on 6 July). Tolerated afternoon light insinuated from a west-facing window, to be swallowed in that privileged and subtle incandescence they finesse in these off-Bond Street galleries ...

Monster Doss House

Iain Sinclair, 24 November 1988

The Grass Arena 
by John Healy.
Faber, 194 pp., £9.95, October 1988, 0 571 15170 1
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... Suddenly a hand wrenched my neck back. Others grabbed my arms, my legs ... One of them squeezed my balls so hard. I got a pain in my guts making me dizzy.’ Brooding malign silences wind the tension to breaking point, and are punctuated by sudden eruptions of violence: it is a survivalist world, bleak and uncompromising – the world of competitive chess ...

Mysteries of Kings Cross

Iain Sinclair, 5 October 1995

Vale Royal 
by Aidan Dun.
Goldmark, 130 pp., £22.50, July 1995
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... A senior lecturer in English and American studies at one of our livelier universities, himself a fine poet, was talking to me on the telephone. A student had decided to write something about London poetry – was there any? He’d toyed with David Gascoyne’s A Vagrant (‘They’re much the same in most ways, these great cities’), but decided that Paris was the principal focus there ...

In Hackney

Iain Sinclair: Steve Dilworth, 15 November 2001

... London: chaos. The Isle of Harris: rock. Visual and auditory interference on all sides. You hear the radio even when it isn’t playing. The shocked and affronted voices. Our eyes are scratched by bad loops of illegitimate videotape. But the voice of the sculptor Steve Dilworth, who lives out there, between road and sea, might be coming from a chair on the other side of my Hackney room ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: At Bluewater, 3 January 2002

... In The War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells’s Martians had the good sense to make landfall near Woking. ‘Hundreds of observers saw the flame that night and the night after, about midnight, and again the night after; and so for ten nights, a flame each night.’ Technologically primitive Surrey suburbanites were zapped by future war weaponry; it was a horribly unequal contest ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: The Peruvian Corporation of London, 10 October 2019

... prompt for my own back-country tourism. I was in pursuit of my Scottish great-grandfather Arthur Sinclair, from Turriff in Aberdeenshire. In a chapbook, The Story of His Life and Times as Told by Himself, published in Colombo in 1900, Sinclair briskly sketches a career that had some parallels with John Clare (an elective ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: London’s Lost Cinemas, 6 November 2014

... by a regime of ice-cold baths. Part of the workhouse was now the Cinema Museum. My companion, Anna Sinclair, was due to introduce a double bill of Henry Hathaway’s Niagara and Polanski’s Cul-de-Sac, films illuminated by the best of bad girls, Marilyn Monroe and Françoise Dorléac. If the Ambulance Service was in trouble in Wales, reduced to issuing ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: In Guy Vaes’s Footsteps, 21 May 2020

... I found a faint, pencilled inscription. Inspected with a magnifying glass, it appeared to say: ‘Iain de ...

Isle of Dogs

Iain Sinclair, 10 May 1990

Pit Bull 
by Scott Ely.
Penguin, 218 pp., £4.99, March 1990, 0 14 012033 5
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... This small-brained animal, primed to hate, straining at the end of a short leash, is universally recognised as bad news. And the dog, his yellow-eyed, short-eared familiar, the killing machine, is not much better. The whole relationship is a mistake, a dangerous misconception, a perversion of actual needs. The dog as protector becomes the very thing that must be protected against: squat embodiment of threat ...

Bad News

Iain Sinclair, 6 December 1990

Weather 
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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... Separate,​ within his glass-enclosed elevation, the riverboat pilot glances wearily at the undramatic shoreline, and spins the wheel to bring us closer to the west bank. His rapid spiel picks out, for the benefit of tourists ploughing resignedly from Totnes to Dartmouth, the celebrities who have made their homes, or pitched their weekend cottages, within sight of the Dart ...

Lady Thatcher’s Bastards

Iain Sinclair, 27 February 1992

Class War: A Decade of Disorder 
edited by Ian Bone, Alan Pullen and Tim Scargill.
Verso, 113 pp., £7.95, November 1991, 0 86091 558 1
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... A year ago, made tame by viral invasion, I wandered listlessly through the arctic wilderness of the Stonebridge Estate in Haggerston, in the company of a strategically-bearded photographer sent by this journal He had recently returned from a sharp-eyed raid on Eastern Europe and was enjoying the sense of recognition, the familiar after-images, triggered by these survivals ...

The Grey Boneyard of Fifties England

Iain Sinclair, 22 August 1996

A Perfect Execution 
by Tim Binding.
Picador, 344 pp., £15.99, May 1996, 0 330 34564 8
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... Tim Binding is a confident writer. His paragraphs, lengthy but under control, take swift possession of the thick sheaf of pages, imposing form. The narrative voice is modestly assertive. There is a tale to be told. The taleteller, having caught your attention, will not let go. No tricks, no mannerisms, no eye-catching Modernist flourishes: that’s the trick of it ...

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 ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: Ronnie Kray bows out, 8 June 1995

... A crisp, clear morning, bright and fresh and cold enough to make the flaunting of black anklelength crombies no burden: the perfect day for a funeral. Walking down towards Bethnal Green, through Haggerston Park and over Hackney Road, I appreciate the unnatural, expectant stillness – dispersed by the fretting of traffic that is already beginning to snag up ...

Secretly Sublime

Iain Sinclair: The Great Ian Penman, 19 March 1998

Vital Signs 
by Ian Penman.
Serpent’s Tail, 374 pp., £10.99, February 1998, 1 85242 523 7
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... One of the myths that fuzzes the shadowy outline of Ian Penman, a laureate of marginal places, folds in the map, is that Paul Schrader, the director of a sassy remake of Jacques Tourneur’s Cat People, admired Penman’s review so much that he invited him over to Los Angeles to talk product. Penman in California was truly the vision of a man who fell to earth, a pale alien in an X Files landscape ...

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