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An erudite and entertaining interpreter of the human landscape, Iain Sinclair often chooses the less scenic route: an orbit of the M25, or a tour of the wastelands left behind by the London Olympic project. (His last book, Ghost Milk, brilliantly dismantled Olympic bombast.)
American Smoke is his personal “memory map” of a far more appealing landscape: the east and west coasts of America, through Kerouac country, as well as the homelands of Burroughs, Ginsberg, Charles Olson and Gregory Corso. Despite being deeply influenced by US writers and thinkers, Sinclair has remained fixed in Hackney for much of his life – until recently, when he decided to track down the literary sources that shaped him. He’ll be discussing the borders he crossed, the volcanoes he explored, and his jaunts into Mexico and Hollywood, chasing the legend of “the bad journey”.