Iain Sinclair BBC interview (2004) about Dining on Stones

These audio interviews on BBC date back to 07/05/2004, and they were made at the time Dining On Stones was published.

“The cult(ural) heavyweight takes to the road again.
Iain Sinclair’s new novel is not really a novel. “I’ve never really liked the word novel,” he proclaims from his kitchen table in Hackney, in his beloved East End. “It seems to mean novel-ty. Something that’s there simply to pass the time. Something that’s novel and different and will engage your
attention for a few minutes. I just think of them as large prose works which can involve a sort of documentation of things, as well as meditations on comedy or miniature cultural essays, that can all come together to form a sort of hybrid.”
Woe betide the lightweight reader, the entertainment seeker who gets into the ring with Sinclair: he’s undoubtedly one of literature’s heavyweights. In books such as Lights Out For The Territory and London Orbital he has (literally) carved out his own terrain, both stylistically and conceptually, from the shadowy hinterlands of London and its satellite areas, obsessively walking and collating the minutiae which disclose the secrets of its topography. The shorthand for this practice is “psychogeography”, an expression which he believes has been diluted into “an all-purpose term which I think should shortly be banned”.
The latest opus, Dining On Stones Or, The Middle Ground, is appropriately double-titled given its schizophrenic content. Ostensibly an investigation of the A13, the arterial link between London and Hastings, it becomes a quest for the writer to, “Look back into my own career and see what it brought me to do. This weird thing of writing books in a culture that really doesn’t need them, and to investigate places that are best left alone, obsessively for years. So there’s a fictional version of my self, interrogated by another fictional version of my self.”
But capers and comedy have their place too, as Sinclair weaves in strands of hard-boiled detective fiction with the grim fascination of tabloid sensationalism. Hence, there’s a hilarious bungled kidnap attempt: “It actually starts out with that failed kidnapping of Posh Spice. It was an Albanian gang that attempted to do that and it all ended up in an Ibis hotel as a sting by The News Of The World.” But in Sinclair’s attempt to “exorcise newspaper reality”, it’s transmogrified into a daring Max Bygraves snatch wherein the kidnappers end up in possession of C-list celeb Howard Marks. As Sinclair says, “It was one way of looking at the world, and the road.”

Michael Williams 07 May 04

PS: I am having some problems playing them with VLC. After a while the audio becomes garbled.


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