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Binarisms

John Sutherland

18 November 1993
Complicity 
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 ‘IainBanks’ and the person you are talking to will say ‘The Wasp Factory.’ Banksmay 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 ...

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, IainBanks 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 ...

Banksability

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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... As a money-making enterprise, writing makes no sense. According to the UK’s official graduate careers website, prospects.ac.uk (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  ...
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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... this alteration is only partially or part-plausibly accomplished by Arnold. Her rendering of an overheated imagination, and of accidents that proceed from it, is enhanced, however, by comparison with IainBanks’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 ...
7 March 1991
Downriver 
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 ...

In Fife

Kathleen Jamie

22 April 2015
... the small town in Fife where I live lies a loch called Lochmill. Half a mile long, it occupies a natural 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 ...

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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... families. They age and wither. The deepest, darkest depressions, as they pass overhead, have 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 ...

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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... 1950s. Since 1975, Spitalfields has achieved a national reputation as a reclaimable area of beautiful 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 ...

Diary

Iain​ Sinclair: Ronnie Kray bows out

8 June 1995
... plane. The funeral cortège would turn into Vallance Road at the Cornwallis pub, where there are 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 ...
5 March 1981
Precipitous City 
by Trevor Royle.
Mainstream,​ 210 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 906391 09 1
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RLS: A Life Study 
by Jenni Calder.
Hamish Hamilton, 362 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 241 10374 6
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Gillespie 
by J. MacDougall Hay.
Canongate, 450 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 903937 79 4
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Scottish Satirical Verse 
edited by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 236 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 85635 183 0
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Collected Poems 
by Robert Garioch.
Carcanet, 208 pp., £3.95, July 1980, 0 85635 316 7
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... outside Scotland than in it.’ Why that ‘yet’? It isn’t true in any case. As a wise old writer observed, Boswell ‘was a man whom no one could respect, and whom few could help liking’. Mr Royle succeeds where most have failed, and I find that strange, for Boswell was, manifestly, an Edinburgh figure: born there, schooled there, a city advocate, Kames’s protégé. Francis Jeffrey, a ...

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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... map of the Olympic Legacy. I move closer, but the text is still indecipherable and the spectral blot 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 ...

England’s End

Peter Campbell

7 June 1984
English Journey 
by J.B. Priestley.
Heinemann, 320 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 434 60371 6
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English Journey, or The Road to Milton Keynes 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth/BBC, 158 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 563 20299 8
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Crisis and Conservation: Conflict in the British Countryside 
by Charlie Pye-Smith and Chris Rose.
Penguin, 213 pp., £3.95, March 1984, 0 14 022437 8
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Invisible Country: A Journey through Scotland 
by James Campbell.
Weidenfeld, 164 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 297 78371 8
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Literary Britain 
by Bill Brandt.
Victoria and Albert Museum in association with Hurtwood Press, 184 pp., £8.95, March 1984, 0 905209 66 4
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... Road to Wigan Pier uncomfortable reading for optimists, despite the fact that many of the economic horrors he described have gone. Part of Bainbridge’s problem with the present is the past: All my parents’ bright days had ended before I was born. They faced backwards. In so doing they created within me so strong a nostalgia for time gone that I have never been able to appreciate the present ...

The Colossus of Maroussi

Iain​ Sinclair: In Athens

27 May 2010
... is available, in serious quantities, for those who can come up with the right kind of fun. If you were going to hunt dogs, Victoria Park wouldn’t be a bad place to start. Those dogs stayed with me when I left for Athens. I had seen film footage shot two years after the 2004 Games, of loping beasts, freelance canine caretakers patrolling the overgrown wilderness of the futurist sculpture park ...

The Raging Peloton

Iain​ Sinclair: Boris Bikes

20 January 2011
... Cameron, underwent significant revision. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the horse path 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 ...

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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... photographs of his own photographs scattered across riverine London. Shoreditch has franchised the no-show show, the perfect way of emptying rooms and secret spaces, slaughterhouse cellars, former banks, the struck sets of the Industrial Revolution. This art is designed to repel browsers. The private view or first night piss-up is the event. The rooms are then too crowded to allow anyone near the ...

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