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October 5, 2012 7:41 pm
London’s Overthrow, by China Miéville, The Westbourne Press, RRP£7.99, 96 pages
Taking his title from an infernal sketch by Jonathan Martin, the 19th-century arsonist (and brother of the artist John Martin) who set alight York Minster in 1829, China Miéville strolls through austerity London, examining the pervasive apocalyptic mood of late 2011.
His short hallucinatory essay is in essence a prose poem intercut with grainy mobile phone images and there are some interesting ideas here as he intersects with the Occupy movement, meets psychogeographer Iain Sinclair at the Olympic Park, visits a dubstep club night and considers launderettes as teleportation stations.
But Miéville’s latent socialist fury boils over in his writing; mouthfuls of elided portmanteau words intended to extend the range of this polemic in fact render it overblown, portentous and at times little more than an end-of-times diatribe. A missed opportunity to really get under the skin of a city in crisis.
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