Pods and Peds

Caroline Maclean

  • Dining on Stones, or, The Middle Ground by Iain Sinclair
    Hamish Hamilton, 449 pp, £16.99, April 2004, ISBN 0 241 14236 9

It is best to read Iain Sinclair’s work out of the corner of your eye. The action takes place on the peripheries; it disintegrates if you concentrate too hard on the middle. Dining on Stones, a postmodern thriller for geeky pedestrians, doesn’t really have a story; Sinclair’s idea of a plot is a walk. Andrew Norton, a disillusioned flâneur, novelist and bookseller lives in Hackney. Dover St Gallery commissions him to write a commentary on the artist Jimmy Seed, who paints pictures of motorways: ‘Bucket of whitewash, slap in a few lorries with fine badger brush and leave the rest misty and impressionistic. Let the buggers see what they want to see in a tribute to absence.’ This is the opposite of Sinclair’s turbulent narrative, in which little is left for the buggers to work out, and the buggers still can’t work it out.

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