Iain Sinclair’s Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire is this week’s Book of the Week on Radio 4 read by Neil Pearson. Brilliant reader that Pearson is, I would much preferred to have heard the man himself reading. Iain Sinclair’s performances are just that – not mere readings, he has such a rich timbre to his voice and seems to have absorbed enough from the Beats to know that a reading of literature should be an event, a happening, a visceral experience.
I had the great fortune of interviewing Iain for the documentary I’m just finishing about Nick Papadimitriou and our relationship with the edgelands of the city. Iain had included Nick in his anthology, London, City of Disappearances, the two men in many respects kindred spirits, “perambulators of the margins”.
From what Iain had to say that day about Hackney, a place where I’d squatted (in both senses) in the early nineties and had dealings in the murky world of local politics (my yellow metal-doored council flat was the postal address for the Victoria Ward of the Hackney Labour Party for over a year), the book will have a resonance far beyond that brilliantly blighted rotten borough, beyond London. It will say much about the condition of city living, the corporate take-over of not just space but our perception of space, the city as lived versus the virtual city as sold by the vulturish property developers and the Orwellian sounding quangos that rule the urban realm like medieval barons.
I think Iain Sinclair will be doing a few events and readings around London in March, I definitely recommend taking one in, make a night of it, watch his ‘Ah Sunflower’ before going out, listen to the audio book of Downriver on the way there and make a night-time pilgrimage to London Fields afterwards.
The doc should have some screenings in April – I’ll post more about it soon.