I've only recently come to enjoy the prose of Iain Sinclair, and so find myself very tempted by this latest set of adventures, American Smoke. Sinclair had to content himself with the Beats from afar, occasionally brushing shoulders, as he did with Allen Ginsberg in 1967. He recalls the moment,
When I drove Ginsberg across town in my battered red Mini, the youthful tribes, having no clear sense of who he was – a bearded face from TV screens in other people’s houses, from tabloid Hyde Park dope-rally headlines – rapped on the roof, leant in at the side window, with daffodils and peace signs. Celebrity as a shattered crystal. William Blake our contemporary. London relents, in cycles of mesmerised communality: free concert, royal wedding or royal funeral, riot. Break the glass. Loot, trash. Ding dong! The witch is dead. Burn down shops and warehouses. Episodes of euphoria alternate with long-suppressed rage. Before the Swiss banks resume normal service.
Sinclair has ambled the streets of London for many years, picking up on its movements and rhythms and now tries his hand at the American scene, as he contrasts the world of the Beats among the ruins they left behind. It seems like an archeological journey in many ways, but in the clipped voice he has become famous for, poking fun at himself and his conceits along the way.