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Downriver by Iain Sinclair

Downriver (1991)

by Iain Sinclair

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I am not sure what I feel about this book. It was certainly beautifully written. Sinclair has a mastery with words that I have seldom encountered before, and the book is peppered with astonishing metaphors. He also has an extraordinary eye for landscape. Early in the book one of the characters wanders through the wasteland around Tilbury Fort, which I had visited not long before. Sinclair’s description of it is startling in its vividness. I can’t remember ever reading an account of a location that so accurately captured both the physical features and the sheer squalor and despair that they provoked.

I did, however, find reading the book quite a struggle. The narrative moves haltingly, changing focus and narrator with each new section. There are, in fact, several different stories interwoven with each other, each unfolding at a different pace. Desperately clever, no doubt, yet also desperately irritating. On balance, I felt that the glory of Sinclair’s prose just outweighed the difficulties imposed by choice of format. Perhaps I am simply too middle aged, middle class and middle brow properly to appreciate it, but I think my final judgement is that it was a shame that such beautiful prose was not better served by the story it told. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Feb 21, 2017 |
Sinclair's second novel is most of these things: brilliant, vicious, difficult, lyrical, brutal, epic, unreadable, compulsively readable, dark, funny, frustrating, rewarding.
3 vote sb3000 | Nov 29, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141014857, Paperback)

'Crazy, dangerous, prophetic' - Angela Carter. In "Downriver", Iain Sinclair traces the ruins of Margaret Thatcher's reign through the lens of a fictional film crew that has been hired to make a documentary about what's left of London's river life. The Thames may still flow through the heart of the capital, but life along its shores has changed dramatically. "Downriver" is a savage, satirical quest to understand how people's lives, government's policies and a legendary water land conspire together in a boggling display of self-destruction.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:04 -0400)

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