Suicide Bridge by Iain Sinclair

SuicideBridge300A brand new edition comprising the most complete version of Suicide Bridge yet published, it includes three extra “books” of material, which formed part of the original work but was not included in previous editions. It also includes photographs and artwork from the 1979 Albion Village Press edition, along with additional photos by the author.

As in his later work, Iain Sinclair saunters into the shadowy city underworld with his ever-watchful eye and roving syntax, this time probing the mythic figures from William Blake’s Jerusalem and the mythical king Bladud. Previously text-bound entities such as Hand, Hyle and Kotope are made flesh and given to foggy breath in the contemporary landscape. Addressed to “the enemy” the reader is precariously perched on the teetering bridge while the author kicks at the mythic spindles that hold it up. Sinclair’s alternating, inter-penetrating prose and poetry become the uneven struts and pylons of a new concrete/abstract literary edifice. An apt summary of the work can be found in a review Robert Sheppard wrote at the time of the original Albion Village Press publication in 1979 (now included as an Afterword in this new edition):

“The names of ‘characters’ are lifted from Blake’s Jerusalem, the sons of the oppressed giant Albion. Each mythic son was assigned a place in England. This correspondence between ‘known man’ and particular location Sinclair has preserved. During the account of the birth of the demonic twins Hand and Hyle, primitive twin/shadow cults merge into a cosmogony (‘myth of the origin of the universe’): like sci-fi monsters (yet another myth archetype, more modern) they appear appropriately from a black hole, ex nihilo. London is their target…”

“…The book, like Lud Heat, is set at an almost inconceivable pace, given its complexity, like that of a thriller. It is not necessary to insist upon Sinclair’s learning, esoteric and eccentric though it is. I always read Sinclair at length (magazine excerpts cramp his work’s scope, belittle his stature). Any pool of obscurity will be seemingly filled by the flow of the energetic prose, the ‘narrative’, as we’re carried along with it. And myth, Sinclair recognises, demands narrative as its mode. ‘The story told fresh in an historical present… It has to be very simple to work.’”

This classic text has in recent times been fused to its contemporaneous volume, Lud Heat, but very much deserves to stand on its own. Suicide Bridge was originally published by Albion Village Press in 1979 with the sub-title A Book of the Furies, A Mythology of the South & East – Autumn 1973 to Spring 1978.  This all-new expanded edition is best explained in the author’s acknowledgements:

“This new Skylight Press edition constitutes the most complete version, so far published, of Suicide Bridge. The Books of Gwantok, Brerton, and Bowen have been recovered from typescripts, notebooks and fugitive magazine. I would like to thank the editors of Green Horse (An anthology by young poets of Wales), PCL British Poetry Conference (June 1977), Perfect Bound, Meantime (One), where some of this material first appeared in an earlier form. And I would like also to acknowledge the helpful provocations of the bibliographer, Jeff Johnson, who set me rummaging through the attic.”

Of the original edition, The Guardian’s Jeff Nuttall had this to say:

“Vitality is one of the many qualities radiating from Iain Sinclair’s superb collection, Suicide Bridge… Sinclair’s is a cerebral flame ignited by political anger… He is utterly traditional, his roots extending back through Ginsberg and Dorn, and beyond that, to Blake. His method is to appoint a cast of archetypes, Skofeld, Bladud, Coban, Atum, Kotope, and have them prance, like Sweeney, Ignu or Rintrah, through the wreckage of capitalism, manipulated by powerful rhythmic lines…”

As well as being compared to the greats – Sinclair has been the toast of a number of them also.  Here are a couple of examples:

“One of the cliffs of Blake’s and Coleridge’s Albion sweeping against the walls of Everywhere…
This is the landscape of another realm. We are walking over a raw and smoking surface filled with surprises. All around are the possibilities of lost tribes quietly bustling in the shadows… This is a rare jewel.”
— Michael McClure

“The book is an excitement to read. Always strong, always compelling, like a good thriller. How he can actually handle all the dark stuff, the mantic utterances, within his own being, I can’t say. He must have a strong psychic interface to deal with the Intruder who gives him these tales, who compels the knowledge, traces the dark patterns in the grass… Read it, for a totally other experience of hidden Albion.”
— Chris Torrance

Skylight Press is honoured to follow its 2012 edition of Lud Heat with this all-new expanded version of Suicide Bridge, which we trust will attract a new generation of readership.  The works of Iain Sinclair are a treasure trove in contemporary British poetics – and one to be shared with the rest of the world.  

Suicide Bridge is available from various retail outlets such as or direct from the Skylight Press website.


About Daniel

Writer & Musician
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1 Response to Suicide Bridge by Iain Sinclair

  1. Pingback: Sinclair’s “Suicide Bridge” Reissued

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