Book Review: London Tales, by Greg Stekelman

London Tales

London Tales

I’ve been a fan of The Man Who Fell Asleep, aka Greg Stekelman, for some time. Before web 2.0 was a meaningless phrase, he created a surreal corner of the internet that I often felt drawn to. Now that social media is dominent, @themanwhofell is a reassuring, other-worldly presence on Twitter.

In November last year Greg published London Tales, a collection of 100 images and text contained in a beautifully produced, limited edition hardback book. I have copy number 126 of 250.

I read it on the last day of the Christmas holidays, wanting time to absorb it’s themes: of wanting to be someone else, of existential shame, of never letting go of a parallel life, of an obsession with the now, of worrying, of anxiety, of looking for clues, of the eternal tourist, and of killing the days with words and pictures.

In Greg’s own words, “it’s not really about London. Or at least, it’s not about anyone else’s London except my own. It’s mostly my own wanderings around the familiar streets of north London suburbia. […] I’d like to think it walks the right line between self-analysis and morbid narcissism. Most of my writing walks a tightrope between silliness and self-pity. I try not to fall off.”

I found it absorbing and slightly voyeuristic to have a glimpse into another human beings thoughts and fantasies. I guess all works of art have this quality… but have you ever sat opposite someone on the bus or the Tube and wondered what they were thinking? I feel like I’ve been allowed into another person’s stream of consciousness, where some of the thoughts are comforting, some of the thoughts are bleak, but all of them help me to connect in some way with the author.

The text has a poetry-like feel, accompanied by snapshot-pictures of a London that is both familiar and strange. I hope that Greg does more work of this kind, and takes some comfort in the knowledge that when the 250 copies of his book are sold, he will have shared something of himself with a mixture of friends and strangers.

At £40, think of this book as a gift to yourself, and if they haven’t all sold, you can buy one from here.

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