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Archive for February 22nd, 2009

That Rose-Red Empire

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In Hackney, perhaps more than anywhere else in Britain, or even Europe, the messy, unruly inner city has become a desirable commodity. Artists and bankers, squatters and politicians, punks and estate agents, in the last five decades all have moved to Hackney in large numbers, in search of excitement, kindred spirits, affordable property. London’s centre of gravity has shifted accordingly. When I first moved to Hackney 15 years ago, to Stoke Newington, by then a relatively well-known and gentrified bit of the borough, most people I knew in richer parts of London had still never heard of my area. Now most of them live there.

This is from Andy Beckett’s review of Hackney: That Rose-Red Empire by Iain Sinclair. Some how, without really meaning to, I am approaching my sixth year here and I would imagine I will be around at least until the totemic date of 2012. M John Harrison likes to remark that in literary terms Hackney is the new Hampstead. I was never particularly convinced by this but it does chime with another part of Beckett’s review:

And [Sinclair] perceptively suggests that the borough may attract a certain kind of middle-class incomer: “intelligent, focused, aggrieved … conforming in nonconformity”.

I admire Sinclair more for his existence than his actual body of work – I found both Lights Out For The Territory andLondon Orbital hard work – but I will definitely be picking this one up.

Written by Martin

22 February 2009 at 10:40

Posted in books

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