‘Literary critic James Wood called him the “demented magus of the sentence”; John Walsh suspected him of genius, writing: “He can outgun virtually any writer in England.”‘
Why then, if this Guardian profile/interview rings true, don’t more Americans know who Iain Sinclair is? His new novel, Dining on Stones, isn’t yet available in the States, although some of his previous titles can be found here and there. The Guardian’s Stuart Jeffries describes Sinclair’s style:
‘…Hemingwayesque, sometimes sinuously poetic sentences, verb-free zones, clipped gags. On the first page of the new novel, for example, we read: “Pass sixty, sixty-five, and you can’t sustain an erection beyond eight and a half minutes. So I read. Is that a promise? Eight and half minutes, of the right intensity, sounds good. Novelists have managed books on less.”‘
I don’t think I have read better contemporary nonfiction than Sinclair’s books Rodinsky’s Room and Lights Out for the Territory, both about the topographical ghosts of London. One of the reasons for Sinclair’s American obscurity is his London mania: shorthand references to minor celebrities and thumbnail sketches of East End gangland history which probably require (and deserve) a whole apparatus of annotations.
I have a few more notes on Sinclair here. Here’s a Fortean Times interview in which Sinclair expounds on his theories of “psychogeography,” plus his entry in the Literary Encyclopedia, and a list of his titles from Granta Books.