Iain Sinclair is one of London’s great authors, someone who through his novels, essays, travelogues and poems brings the deeper history and magic of the city out into the open. He remembers London’s forgotten writers, fights to keep their memories alive, an interest that blossomed in small bookshops and early-morning markets, developed into a Camden Passage stall. His writing shows London as layers of experience, stories stuck in parchment, a staccato speed to those prose descriptions. There are nods to the dreams of Alexander Baron; the realities of Gerald Kersh; Robert Westerby’s mighty Wide Boys Never Work; the madness of the Krays, Billy Hill, Jack Spot; musings on Hawksmoor, Jack The Ripper, the Ratcliffe Highway Murders; black-and-white portraits of a destroyed East End and its Jewish thinkers.
In Michael Moorcock’s introduction to the 1998 Granta one-volume reprint of Sinclair’s Lud Heat and Suicide Bridge, he writes: ‘Sinclair’s relish for language, for lost words and forgotten notions, his lust for metaphor, links him with earlier London visionaries like Blake or Eliot, just as the breadth of his enthusiasms allows the inspiration of Ginsberg and De Quincey, but it is neither his eclecticism nor his influences which define his work – it’s his curiosity, his sense of justice, his bardic instincts, his generosity, and above all his original vision of what remains in spite of everything the greatest and most complex of cities.’ If anyone should know, it is the author of Mother London.