American Smoke : Journeys to the End of the Light, Hardback

American Smoke : Journeys to the End of the Light Hardback

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Iain Sinclair looks to the open road and the Beat Generation in American Smoke.

Iain Sinclair breaks for the border with American Smoke, his first full engagement with the memory-filled landscapes of the American Beats and their fellow travellers.

In a book filled with bad journeys and fated decisions, this is a delirious expedition in the footsteps of Malcolm Lowry, Charles Olson, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Gary Snyder and more, heated by obsession (the Old West, volcanoes, Mexico) and enlivened by false memories, broken reports and strange adventures.

With American Smoke Sinclair confirms his place as the most innovative of our chroniclers of the contemporary.

Praise for Ghost Milk: "Inventive, dazzling, arresting.

A superb chronicle of an impossible dream that has descended to a nightmare". (New Statesman). "Brilliant, superb. Sinclair has gone from cult author to national treasure". (Robert Macfarlane, Guardian). "Wonderful, sharp, amusing, grippingly atmospheric. One of our most dazzling prose stylists". (Daily Telegraph). 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.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 320 pages, illustrations (black and white), map (colour)
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Travel writing
  • ISBN: 9780241145272



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Disappointing in that Mr Sinclair never quite gets to grips with the legacy of the Beat generation of poets and some of their fellow travellers. But then was that the point of his journey? Is it really another perambulation in search of the author? As usual a fascinating loop of diversions loosely tented onto the hooks of a road trip around the USA visiting places and people with reminiscences of the beat scene of the 50s snd 60s. Some of whom were pleased to be identified as beats some not. Added in for good measure are Malcolm Lowry and the invented author Carl Shutter who is a real curiosity. A made up inhabitant of the suburbs of San Francisco. Of all the memorial sites to choose to site a fiction why the great literary city of the West? Was there no-one there for Mr Sinclair to meet and digress with? Or did he just enjoy writing a neat piece of fiction? In the end another enjoyable imaginary and physical journey but a nagging feeling that his heart wasn't really in it.

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