Hackney, that rose-red empire: a confidential report

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Hamish Hamilton, Apr 29, 2009 - Fiction - 581 pages
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Hackney,Tthat Rose-Red Empire is Iain Sinclair's personal record of the area of London in which he has lived for forty years. It is a documentary fiction, seeking to capture the spirit pf place, before Hackney succumbs to mendacious green papers, eco boasts, sponsored public art and the Olympic Park gnawing at its edges.Sinclair meets a cast of the dispossessed: writers, painters, photographers, barbers, surgeons, market traders, gangsters and bomb-makers. Legends of tunnels, Hollow Earth theories and the notorious Mole Man are unearthed. He uncovers traces of those who passed through Hackney: Lenin and Stalin; novelists Joseph Conrad and Samuel Richardson; comet discoverer Edmond Halley and scientist Joseph Priestley; filmmakers Orson Welles and Jean-Luc Godard; Tony Blair beginning his political career; even a Baader-Meinhof urban guerrilla on the run. And tells his own story: of forty years in one house, marriage, children, strange encounters, deaths . . .Once an Arcadian suburb of grand houses, orchards and conservations, Hackney declined into a zne of asylums, hospitals and dirty industry. Persistently revived, reinvented, betrayed, it has become a symbol of inner-city chaos, crime and poverty. Now, the Olympics, a final attempt to clamp down on a renegade spirit, seeks to complete the process: erasure disguised as 'progress'.Iain Sinclair's Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire is a message in a bottle, Chucked into the flood of the future.

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