I first heard of Ian Sinclair a few months ago when he did an event with Alan Moore at the Barbican. He did some readings and I liked his style. I borrowed this book from the library as I really like Moore's chapter on John Clare in Voice of the Fire and apparently Moore was one of the people in the book so it seemed like a good place to start.
I have to say I did not get on that well with this book. I found the lack of structure really frustrating. It seemed to drift all over the place, sometimes about walking, family history, other history, Clare's life with no real reason behind any of it. When he was talking about historical things I did enjoy the book. There was a chapter about Shelly which I particularly liked. However, there was a lot I didn't care for. The walking chapters just seemed SO pretentious it hurt. It was like he was the subject of Pulp's common people. Recreating a walk of a madman on the run from a mental hospital and then staying in nice hotels just felt like cheating, and being outraged when you couldn't stay in the posh one cause you were too scruffy from walking even though they'd taken your credit card seemed absurd. He just came across as so annoying. He was like the opposite of Kerouac, instead of going around and digging all the things he saw and celebrating them, it just all came off as superior comdemnation. There was also a lot about his wife's family history, which while he attempted to link with Clare I don't think he managed very well and in the end I found those sections very dull.
I've got a copy of his book he wrote with Rachel Lictenstein about the disappearing cabalist in spitalfields which I'm looking forward to reading. But I can't see myself picking up any more of his books....Continua