hbk: Goldmark, (Uppingham) UK, 1987
pbk: Paladin, UK, 1988
ISBN 1-870507-00-2 (UK hbk),,, ISBN 1-870507-01-0 (UK limited edition hbk),,, ISBN 0-586-08685-4 (UK pbk)
novel, slipstream, experimental, gothic
Sole runner-up 1987 Guardian Fiction Prize.
White Chappel Scarlet Tracings fuses historical and contemporary narratives: one story deals with the life of Sir William Gull, a chief suspect in the Whitechapel murders; while the second strand concerns the predatory activities of a pack of seedy antiquarian bookdealers, hunting down rare volumes.
The two plot streams are bridged by the occult quest of a character called "The Author"; to find the identity of Jack the Ripper.
The book features a set of idiosyncratic characters, drawn with Dickensian relish and vividness; hallucinatory seepings of past into present; occult mysteries; and explosive violence. In addition, Sinclair delves into the dark side of the late-Victorian psyche through imaginative re-examinations of Stevenson's Jekyll and Hyde and Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet .
Sinclair applies a range of techniques as wide as those displayed in his poetry (see Lud Heat and Suicide Bridge ): the book combines poetic sequences worthy of earlier London visionaries (Eliot, Blake, Chatterton) - with thriller elements and explosive violence reminiscent of Derek Raymond.
As the narrative lurches between the 1880s and the 1980s, between the East End and East Anglia, between the enclaves of power and the backstreets of poverty; Sinclair tells a compelling tale of madness, revelation and social collapse.
White Chappel Scarlet Tracings is one of the funniest and most frightening books of our era.
*note: Commentary by Andrew Hedgecock.
"The highest pleasure... I only wish there could be more writing like this." --Kathy Acker.
"A most remarkable novel, particularly in its labyrinthine and millennial aspects; a genuine work of prose..." --Peter Ackroyd.
"A stimulating and idiosyncratic visionary novel, full of lively characters and bizarre humour. I'd recommend it to anyone as tired or impatient with old literary conventions as Iain Sinclair. This novel refreshes, invigorates and cheers you up." --Michael Moorcock.
"A poet's novel - alternately luminous and obscure; startling in its verbal and atmospheric range." --James Lasdun.
"Iain Sinclair sees more than the skull beneath the skin ... has the rare power of staying in the reader's mind for years and years." --Paul Bailey (in The Observer ).
"Preoccupied by what JL Borges identified as the classic elements of the fantastical: the contamination of the