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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Saturday, February 07, 2009
    Mapping Hackney
     
    Iain Sinclair is undoubtedly canny enough to have realised that by rooting himself so absolutely in a particular place for so long, and making a name for himself by writing repeatedly about being rooted so absolutely in that place, that one day they'll Heritage him: blue plaque on 28 Albion Drive, E8, 'Iain Sinclair, psychogeographer, schlepped out from here, 1969 onwards' (as good, maybe, as being memorialised in Bunhill Fields alongside his beloved Bunyan, Blake and Defoe). Publishing Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire, A Confidential Report almost guarantees him that status, although it may read oddly to the sanctioned custodians of Hackney heritage, with its trademark 'cast of the dispossessed, including writers, photographers, bomb-makers and market traders ... Legends of tunnels, Hollow Earth theories and the notorious Mole Man. And ... his own story: of forty years in one house in Hackney, of marriage, children, strange encounters, deaths...'

    Sinclair tells Geoff Nicholson in The Lost Art of Walking that because he writes so explicitly about where he continues to live and walk, he does fairly regularly bump into people who are wandering around following the trails in his books. That he's chosen to make the dust-cover of his new book double as a specially-commissioned mythic map of Hackney, is an open invitation to further strange expeditioners of those streets. I love the book. I love the map even more. Hackney adrift in a cerulean sea, Victoria Park a small islet to the south. It really does beg to be used.

    Map designed by David Atkinson, Hand Made Maps