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American Smoke: Journeys to the End of the Light Hardcover – April 15, 2014

3.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“When I opened Iain Sinclair's American Smoke I felt something very different. Here is a style both measured and sumptuously wild--a beautiful, obsessive and individual style--and it's the right weapon for attacking a monumental task: visiting American towns and landscapes associated with the Beats and the writers and poets in their orbit.” ―Lawrence Osborne, The New York Times Book Review

“If you ever feel that plain E.B. White/George Orwell transparent style is--whisper it softly--really kind of flat and boring, try Sinclair. If you are drawn to English that doesn't just sing, but sings the blues and scats and rocks the joint, try Sinclair. His sentences deliver a rush like no one else's. American Smoke . . . is certainly a head trip worth taking.” ―Michael Dirda, The Washington Post

“One of Sinclair's greatest skills has always been his ability to take diverse if not chaotic source material and refashion it in a way that sometimes seems downright alchemical. Once Sinclair starts making connections he finds them everywhere . . . But what ultimately makes the book come together is Sinclair's tough but malleable sensibility, expressed through a prose style that's hard-edged, inventive, often wildly extravagant.” ―Geoff Nicholson, The Los Angeles Times

“[American Smoke] is beguiling, full of sparkling prose and odd, unexpected detours.” ―The New Yorker

“Sinclair's is a prolix poetics, an amassing of noun-hives whose compacted wit would make the most lexically dexterous rapper envious . . . his writing can be an imagistic seance-stream full of startling riffs, memory sifts, domino-effect associationism.” ―Sukhdev Sandhu, The Observer

“Sinclair's bad journeys and higher gossip and spiritual puns bring us not only to the end of the light but to the wild edges of beauty.” ―Baynard Woods, Baltimore City Paper

“Sinclair fans will love American Smoke's rich mix, the blurred lines and outfield references.” ―Anthony Sattin, The Spectator

“Taut, endlessly fertile prose . . . In American Smoke [Sinclair's] voice is still urgent; it still has things to tell us. Of we know what's good for us, we'll listen.” ―Jon Day, Financial Times

“What Sinclair delivers is not just a stunning evocation of the landscapes of America . . . but a precise aetiology of what made him the writer he is. I would recommedn this book to every creative writing student in the country.” ―Stuart Kelly, The Scotsman

About the Author

Iain Sinclair is the author of Downriver (winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Encore Award); Landor's Tower; White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings; Lights Out for the Territory; Lud Heat; Rodinsky's Room (with Rachel Lichtenstein); Radon Daughters; London Orbital; Dining on Stones; Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire; and Ghost Milk. He is also the editor of London: City of Disappearances.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (April 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865478678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865478671
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,043,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The NY Times book review indicated that this was a travel book following the path of various beat authors. Well, that's not exactly true - it is more a collection of essays loosely based around a theme including Jack K, Burroughs, Malcolm Lowery and others and relating them to places. Given that, it was a very good book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book will not disappoint Beat fans. Sinclair's journey uncovers insights into habits, connections and affairs of the personalities he pursued. At first the sentence fragments annoyed me but once I settled into the author's style all became apparent. For me the book is a five but as a familiarity of the Beats is essential this book may lose some readers. But it may also stimulate a curiosity to learn more. This may prove to be classic of sorts.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was enthusiastically reviewed, and the research that went into it is daunting, but it is not an easy read - fast paced and the story line jumps about. I kept gnawing at it, I am interested in the time period and characters.
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By J. Chaney on August 26, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A plain bad read, difficult and yet unrewarding. I bought this book based upon a positive review I'd read, and I cannot imagine what kind of drugs that reviewer must have been on. Unless, perhaps, one is already well-versed in the petty personal affairs and rivalries of this particular band of obscure and less-obscure poets of the mid 20th century, this book is essentially incomprehensible. The narrative does not seem to follow any particular order, basic information necessary to understand the subject matter is omitted, and the writing itself lacks interest. This book cannot have had an editor.
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