Iain Sinclair’s Ghost Milk
Ghost Milk is Iain Sinclair’s latest book and is released on 7th July. It’s described as “a memoir and a series of expeditions undertaken to explore the hidden nature of today’s grand projects” and set around the Olympics 2012 project.
Here’s a review from the Evening standard: http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/lifestyle/book/article-23966101-ghost-milk-calling-time-on-the-grand-project-by-iain-sinclair.do
I believe that @jreades picked up a copy at a reading this week – any initial reviews from you?”
Ah, well I’ve not had time to finish it yet (the Eurostar to Paris for a 2 week workshop might help with that), but as with Hackney That Rose Red Empire I find Sinclair’s writing thrilling and challenging in equal measure.
I can certainly understand why some reviewers have compared Sinclair to the gonzo journalists such as Hunter S. Thompson, but there’s a basic difference here in terms of experience: Sinclair is distilling 30+ years’ of deep experience of an area into a narrative that is intensely about a place, whereas Thompson seems (as far as I’ve ever noticed) to blow into town and then hope to survive long enough to report a few adventures.
So, to me Ghost Milk seems to straddle a really interesting boundary between the intensely personal, place-based consciousness of, say, Dubliners and the more raportage-oriented work of Thompson. Because Ghost Milk is very much also a report into what Hackney is losing to the Olympic beast.
What I love about Sinclair’s writing is that he doesn’t succumb to the trivial nostalgia of the past: \Oh it was all so much better 20 years ago…” He talked about the dangers of sentimentalising a future that will never arrive (“Just see how great our borough will be when…”) but it seems pretty clear to me that he’s also fully aware for the dangers of dwelling only in the past.
Sometimes in reading Ghost Milk I find myself putting the book down and thinking “It’s all futile so much is gone…” However I think the point that Sinclair is making is that change is inevitable and can’t (or shouldn’t) be avoided — he calls Hackney a ‘midden’ — but that the large scale changes of the sort that are imposed by major redevelopment can and must be fought because they are not to use a technical term endogenous. Imposed wholesale change in the place of internal piecemeal change is what undermines those things that brought all of us East to make the area our home.
For Sinclair I feel that his writing is the way he resists these changes and for the rest of us it’s up to us to find our own way to hold some kind of line against the inflows of global capital and the ‘grand projects’ that lead to latter day ruins.”
there’s an event at independent bookshop Pages of Hackney with Sinclair presenting Ghost Milk on Tuesday 26th July at 7pm http://www.pagesofhackney.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=48&Itemid=53