From the windows in our loft, 15 miles or so from central London by road, the Shard is an arrowhead bound for space. Iain Sinclair, in the inner borough of Hackney, has it jabbing in his eye:
It assaults you: vanity in the form of architecture. Desert stuff in the wrong place. Money laundering as applied art. Another unexplained oligarch’s museum of entropy for the riverbank. A giant dagger serving no real purpose: an exclamation point on the Google map of an abolished city once called London.
That passage is from The Last London, which was published in Britain last autumn and billed by Sinclair’s publishers as “the final chapter in [a] life-long odyssey through the streets of the Big Smoke”. The book, which appeared earlier this year in the United States, has just been reviewed in The New York Review of Books by Ian Jack, who says:
English matter-of-factness will never be [Sinclair’s] game; he is indefatigable in his pursuit of the ineluctable, and often his prose succeeds (or fails) like poetry does, as a fleeting glimmer of something that can’t be made sensible.