Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Self and Sinclair! Head to Head!

My friend Chris, or Attic Fantasist as he's known for blogging purposes, has beaten me to this, but the two most visible literary representatives of psychogeography in the UK both feature prominently in last weekend's newspapers. Firstly, Will Self describes his 'growing affinity' with fellow tramper - although, as AF points out, he would probably have resisted the 'psychogeography' tag - W. G. Sebald in a frankly curious Guardian article. Secondly, Rachel Cooke does a much more sensible piece on Iain Sinclair, in which she walks around Hackney with him in anticipation of his new book That Rose-Red Empire. Sinclair has, in the past, been slightly disparaging about Self's somewhat posturing take on psychogeography, which - as I understand it - runs the risk of making its theory and practice overly co-optable (Self might retort that Sinclair is one to talk, of course). Here's a chance, then, to compare and contrast their ideas as they are represented in the mainstream media...

Lots of Sebald features about recently, isn't there?


Karl said...

One can't help but think that Sebald is being co-opted by Self in an effort to accumulate for the latter some sort of vaguely spooky literary kudos. Guardian Review sez: Get down to knocking out crime novels, Self - you know it makes sense. It seems to keep Banville quiet, anyway - and indoors.

Joe said...

Aargh. Banville. 'The Sea' is, well, shit. It should be called 'The Shit'. What's breathtaking about it is that it isn't even Banville's worst book. I really, really, really wanted to like him - a serious modernist in a world full of quirky books with child narrators and whacky American whimsicalisms. And then I read 'The Sea'. My god. What is that book supposed to do? It definitely canvasses the vaguely spooky market.

What's even worse is that some people compare Banville to Green. I can only assume that this is based on an extensive reading of neither of their oeuvres.

Self should write crime novels. Maybe we should start a new collaborative project like the old Martin Amis one and try and write a Will Self crime novel. Any ideas for a title? And could we use John Banville as a character?

Karl said...

It could be a detective novel combined with a rant against 'those feminists' and 'political correctness gone mad':

'The name on the door read "Banville", but that only told half the story: "Ban" from the Gaelic for woman and "Ville" the French for town.

Yeah, this was Womantown, and - yeah again - this was one place this private dick didn't want to be exposed.

I went through my sock drawer and located the fake boobies. I got my gun from behind the stove, and my fedora from the windowsill. Undercover, but - you know - practical. Dumb pigeon staring in.

Then I got to work.

Sometimes the city takes on a life of its own, and all you can do is follow it wherever it brings you: drags you around corners, takes you along rivers you never knew existed. Kisses you, crushes you, drugs you, drowns you.

Does that to some people anyway; the kind of people I see every day: Dead people.'

A Will Self-as-detective novelist Earlham Road project?

Joe said...

I like it. Let's get the ERP involved. Maybe we could write a character apiece.

I'll get to work - rally E and E!

Attic Fantasist said...

Hey, Karl and Joe, Sebald is in the air. Take a look at the new edition of Hamish Hamilton's Five Dials emagazine: