The Unreliable Guide to London, published by the glorious Influx Press, is one of the greatest anthologies that I’ve read to date. Made possible through Kickstarter, this is a glorious book that, through 23 stories, somehow manages to tackle the diversity, sordid magnificence, and yes, unreliability of London. And not just the well-known areas – the majority of the stories take place and give homage to parts of London that I’ve never heard of before. And that just makes it all the better.
I actually requested The Unreliable Guide because I thought it could be an interesting addition to the series I was doing about travel guides a couple months ago. However, the more I read, the more I realised that this anthology totally defied anything I had written about in those posts. The Unreliable Guide is pure emotion, tone, and familiarity, while ‘proper’ travel guides function in the knowledge that you are completely new to the area. The stories are set out as London is: in North, South, East, and West. I really don’t know London at all, so I was fascinated about the shifts and similarities between these seemingly separate areas.
Obviously London, and its varied past, present, and future, is the main link in the anthology. But there is an undercurrent of something truly special that really ties the stories together. Love, maybe. Critical observation, definitely. And yet something more. I can only liken it to the love you have for a grandmother – she’s crotchety and can say terrible things and she smells, just a bit. But there’s so much to be learned, if you know exactly what to ask. (Does that make sense? I hope it does.)
Some of my favourite stories include: Mother Black Cap’s Revenge by George F., Notes on London’s Housing Crisis by Will Wiles, Soft on the Inside by Noo Saro-Wiwa, and There is Something Very Wrong with Leyton Mills Retail Park by Gareth E. Rees. I will definitely be checking out these authors’ other works.
In conclusion? Buy it. Read it. Just don’t blame me if you feel the need to float around London and discover people and places you could never have dreamed of before…
The Unreliable Guide to London was sent to me by Influx Press in exchange for my honest opinion.