Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire: A Confidential Report
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Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire: A Confidential Report

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  136 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Once an Arcadian suburb of grand houses, orchards and conservatories, Hackney declined into a zone of asylums, hospitals and dirty industry. Persistently revived, reinvented, betrayed, it has become a symbol of inner-city chaos, crime and poverty.
Hardcover, 581 pages
Published February 26th 2009 by Hamish Hamilton (first published February 5th 2009)
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A bit of a muddle. As with all of Sinclair's work, the images arrest and move, though the interviews obscure his talents in this sprawling work. Orson Welles and Moby Dick keep bubbling to the surface, illustrating some grand unrealized desire. Sinclair's neighborhood Hackney is disappearing, or evolving. The material phantoms of progress is exacting a due. This formless exploration attempts a collage of evidence. The concluding sections featuring Will Self and Astrid Proll are remarkable.
I embarked upon this book with some trepidation. I'm a Sinclair fan and feel he has been overlooked by prize givers, partly because of the thorniness of his meticulously crafted prose and the no holds barred obsession with the obscurities of London geography, as well as its lesser heralded artists, writers and film makers. A six hundred page book on the subject of just a single London borough promised to try all bar the most attentive of readers and I was ready to be disappointed. Had he gone to...more
Rachel Stevenson
Iain Sinclair doesn’t like things. He doesn’t like rules and regulations, Hackney Council, HSBC, cycle shops, writers who use researchers, gentrification, Tony Blair, the Olympics, the Royal Mail, or paying his council tax. He’s pretty rude about Stewart Home, amateur film makers,Lit and Phil societies, architects, and oh, yeah, Hackney Council. He doesn’t like change. He likes old stuff, weird stuff. He likes things staying the same. But I’m not interested in reading Iain Sinclair's gripes (alt...more
I so looked forward to getting this book from the library, having heard excerpts from it on Radio 4. What a disaster. The editors who knocked it into shape for "Book of the Week" must have really been worth their weight in gold: muddling through over 600 pages of self-indulgent slop cannot have been an easy job.

Having lived in the famous borough for two years, and lived near it in Tower Hamlets for two more, I was looking forward to reading about all my old stomping grounds: Stoke Newington, Cla...more
In the end, I got about two-thirds of the way through this book before giving up. By that point, the author was beginning to repeat himself, and the few nuggets of interesting information about Hackney had become buried beneath increasingly dense layers of waffle and repeated references to a small clique of writers and artists who appear to be the author's friends. Disappointing.
David Hallard
In the tradition of the Situationists, and as an unrepentant Conradian, Iain Sinclair invites us to read this book using 'Heart of Darkness' as a key.

Lying prone in his Hackney cot, reeling from the ravages of the colonialist nightmare, Conrad cast off the twin phantoms of his fever, the imprint of the madness of a "soul that knew no restraint, no faith, and no fear", and its dogged pursuant sent out from home. Hanging in the air, this binary of horror awaits earth born carriers through which th...more
Loved it, though I think this is the longest it has taken me to finish a book. This is an incredibly dense and wandering study of Hackney at a moment in time when what is was is about to be wiped away. Sinclair is mourning the past, but I think also demonstrating that there is hope - precisely because Hackney has always been submerged under varying layers of obfuscation and in constant motion. It is nearly impossible to get a grip on. The characters in this book seem too eccentric to be true, un...more
Iain Sinclair gives us a pure form of "Psychogeography", a kind of ecstatic writing and memoir invented by situationist leader Guy Debord. Here, Sinclair doesn't just recount the history of the East End borough of Hackney, but his personal history living there, emotional memories of starting a family and being an experimental writer and filmmaker. He finds that to do so, he must investigate connections and the connections to those connections which delve further into the world of art and the exp...more
Peter Macinnis
I bought this book in Florence two years ago, and it has been on my to-read file for some time. As I prepare to invade Tasmania for ten days, I need a Good Book to read on the plane, when snowed in, when fogbound, to ease the pain of frostbite. This will be a good choice. I am up to page 12 and kicking myself for not getting to it sooner.
Typical Sinclair - characters appear and connect, locations and events resonate and resurface though the narrative. I found the overall tone dark and a little depressing, as dystopia seems to slowly be seeping through the inner city.
Great trawl through Hackney characters and history, discovered stuff I should've known but didn't and an array of other stories, need to go and have a wwalk around the borough for a day next week.
took awhile to get started, but soon racing through. Highly enjoyable ramble through Hackney landscape filtered through Iain Sinclair's mindset.
Maximus Gallicus
Sinclair is quite brilliant, though idiosyncratic. There is really nothing to compare to his portraiture of London places and people.

Sometimes enjoyable, Inconsistently compelling. Thus took forever to read. Do it goes.
Andrew Johnson
Iain Sinclair is clearly disgruntled with the way his life turned out.

The unreadable ramblings of an old cynical man. Unbearable.
Gareth James
Engaging collage of Hackney's past, present and Olympic-sized future.
Not easy to read, and not as informative/interesting as I'd hoped.
Lauren G
a love letter to one of london's most fascinating neighborhoods.
I chipped away at this for way too long
Dense but brilliant.
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Iain Sinclair is a British writer and film maker. Much of his work is rooted in London, most recently within the influences of psychogeography.

Sinclair's education includes studies at Trinity College, Dublin, where he edited Icarus, the Courtauld Institute of Art (University of London), and the London School of Film Technique (now the London Film School).

His early work was mostly poetry, much of i...more
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