Friday, May 14, 2010

Ride A White Swan

Iain Sinclair has been one of my favorite writers since I discovered his Lights Out for the Territory before a trip to London several years ago.  His style can be a bit daunting (or straight up off-putting for some), but I always feel that I've come out ahead after finishing a Sinclair book, like I've been paid back in full and then some for whatever effort I've put in.  And his books do require effort - his fiction and non-fiction (it's usually a fine line) are nearly as densely packed and idea- and image-rich as his poetry (he was a poet first), except that they go on for hundreds of pages.

Although Sinclair seems to be a fairly well-known figure in the UK (and especially in London), he's nearly invisible in the US.  I had to order his latest book (Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire) online from an English bookseller (it's already in paperback there) via Abebooks, and I don't know when he last read in New York City (though he did appear in April with Michael Moorcock at UT-Austin, which, somewhat improbably, houses Sinclair's archives).  Until recently, there wasn't much information available about him online, at least relative to what I felt was his rightful stature in the literary world.  He doesn't seem to be much of a self-promoter.  So, I was excited to discover that he now has an increasingly active, "official unofficial" website, which seems to consist mostly of updates that Sinclair emails to the person that runs the website.  I'm posting about this now because of the update I saw this morning:

I’ve been out, doing a series of walks with Andrew Kötting, as preparation for a proposed voyage, on swan pedalo, from Hastings to the Olympic site, by sea, river, canal. A book of some kind, and an exhibition, are being assembled.

For someone that knows his writing, this almost reads like some kind of Sinclair parody.  I had to Google "swan pedalo" to make sure it was that I thought it was, and, indeed, it is.  As hilarious as the image is, I suspect that Sinclair might be serious (I'm sure he's serious about the walks and the voyage, but the swan boat?!? A bit of dry humor?), and if he is, I'm sure he'll turn the experience into a book that I'll want to read.

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