'THE MOST VITAL DOCUMENT ABOUT LONDON IN YEARS' - TIMEOUT *****
AN INDEPENDENT BOOK OF THE YEAR
An extraordinary book by a man with a unique and inspiring perspective, SCARP will change the way you view the places and spaces around you, and reveal a forgotten London you never knew existed.
Nick Papadimitriou has spent a lifetime living on the margins, walking and documenting the landscapes surrounding his home in Child's Hill, North London, in a study he calls Deep Topography.
Part meditation on nature and walking, part memoir and part social history, his arresting debut is first and foremost a personal inquiry into the spirit of a place: a 14-mile broken ridge of land on the fringes of Northern London known as Scarp. Conspicuous but largely forgotten, a vast yet largely invisible presence hovering just beyond the metropolis, Scarp is a vast storehouse of regional memory. We join the author as he explores and reimagines this brooding, pregnant landscape, meticulously observing his surroundings, finding surprising connections and revealing lost slices of the past.
SCARP captures the satisfying experience of a long, reflective walk. Whether talking about the beauty of a bird or a telegraph pole, deaths at a roundabout or his own troubled past, Papadimitriou celebrates the poetry in the everyday. His captivating prose reveals that the world around us is alive and intrinsically valuable in ways that the trappings of day-to-day life lead us to forget, and allows us to re-connect with something more authentic, more immediate, more profound.
Nick Papadimitriou is a writer, walker, deep topographer and eccentric. Born in Finchley, Middlesex in 1958, he has had an interest in 'conscious walking' since 1989 and has built up an extensive archive dedicated to this region (his 'Deep Library' consists of approximately 2000 maps and works of local & county history, plant and animal life, architecture, engineering, etc). In 2009 John Rogers/Vanity Projects made a film about Nick titled The London Perambulator: Afoot in London Edgelands. Scarp is his first book.
'Nick is an inspirational figure and a significant spectre. It replenishes my sense of London to know he is out there, somewhere on the western fringes, walking, prospecting, making his reports. He is the prophet of deep-topography, a post-academic discipline, learned on the hoof. You may not be aware of him, but the culture will shrivel when he is not around.' — IAIN SINCLAIR, author of Hackney, that Rose-Red Empire and London Orbital
'He sees magic in everything. He's like a mystic or an alchemist, hoovering up the magic of stone and brick and concrete. He's also got an incredible language at his disposal, remarkable ideas and a deep sense of lucid confusion.' — RUSSELL BRAND
'In an era when the search for authenticity has become de trop, Nick Papadimitriou is a startling personification: a superb nature writer, a poet, the originator and preeminent practitioner of the discipline he has dubbed 'deep topography'. From the council flat in Child's Hill, North London, where he has lived for over a quarter century, he sets out on journeys through the urban space that have the velocity and the daring exploratory feel of interstellar voyaging. I urge you to read the results: they are haunting, strange, lyrical, poignant - a testimony to a life that is triumphantly less ordinary.' — WILL SELF
The most vital document about London in years . . . brilliantly imagined . . . it's compelling singularity and off-message cultural engagement are things we should be profoundly thankful for. — Time Out *****
'Nick Papadimitriou veers closer to the topographical delirium of Iain Sinclair or JG Ballard in Scarp: a ramble through his home suburbs of north London that spreads a visionary gleam over the mysterious backwaters of the Northern Line'. — Independent Books of the Year
Very engaging.Years of study and dreaming in the spare bedroom of his flat have given birth to a series of fantastic journeys . . . — Observer
'What a strange and wonderful work it is... A series of walks across Scarp, loosely stretching from Harefield in the south-west to Hertford in the north-east, forms the main thread of the book. Nick is the perpetual outsider. He's the scruffy-looking drifter staring over your garden fence, or sleeping rough on a golf course. He's the arsonist who twice set fire to his school, and did time for burning down his neighbour's house. Yet he writes like an angel, avoiding the abstruse prose often found in "psychogeographic" writing.' — www.londonist.com
'Its full of poetry - something to keep on the night-stand and dip in and out of when the mood takes you. There's a breathtaking amount of colour here, with the author adopting a point of view that makes what are in reality rather mundane suburbs seem like places of mystery and magic.' — www.londoneer.org
If Will Self is partly responsible for the current popularity of psychogeographic writing, then 'deep topographer' Nick Papadimitriou deserves credit for influencing Self's thinking . . . SCARP is intense and deeply personal . . . Ultimately this isn't a book about the Scarp but about fringes - of society, cities, nature, perhaps even sanity. Self's droll psychogeographic adventures are more fun but they lack the sheer Joycean scope of Papadimitriou's ramblings: this is the hard stuff. — Metro
His great achievement is demonstrating how a long walk can be a meditative healing process where one can forget what is mundane, and reconnect not only with one's inner self, but also with something deeper and even more tangible. — We Love This Book
Papadimitriou is a wildly exotic gatecrasher . . . an heroically odd book . . . rich in memorable phrases. — Word Magazine
A terrific read, beautifully written. — Robert Elms, BBC London
SCARP is a scuffed jewel of a book. — Independent
The urban flaneur's alternative exploration of north London, combining social history and memoir — The Times