Edge of the Orison
The story goes that in 1841, the poet John Clare escaped from High Beach Asylum in Epping Forest and, heading towards his home in Northborough, covered eighty miles over three-and-a-half days. On foot and alone, he was searching for his lost love, Mary Joyce - a woman already three years dead... In Iain Sinclair s hands, the bare facts of John Clare's story turn both strange and elliptical. Armed with curiosity and a sense that his work has from the first been haunted by Clare, Sinclair - together with fellow diviners and other stragglers of the road - sets out to recreate Clare's walk away from madness and to explore his own obsession with the poet. Keats, De Quincey, Blake, Pepys, Shelley, Joyce, Beckett, artist Brian Catling and magus Alan Moore - along with Sinclair's wife Anna, who shares a connection with Clare - are his fellow travellers on a journey that becomes an exercise in memory and erasure encompassing parents, grandparents and other ancestral ghosts. The mad, wonderful, hallucinatory and physical prose of Clare finds new expression in Sinclair's deep-digging fiction of biography where memoir, history, travel, mystery and dreamstory combine in a magnificent eulogy to madness and to sanity - along the borders of which may lie the poet's muse.