Marshland: Dreams and Nightmares on the Edge of London by Gareth E. Rees
'I had become a bit part in the dengue-fevered fantasy of a sick city.'
Cocker spaniel by his side, Rees wanders the marshes of Hackney, Leyton and Walthamstow, avoiding his family and the pressures of life. He discovers a lost world of Victorian filter plants, ancient grazing lands, dead toy factories and tidal rivers on the edgelands of a rapidly changing city.
Ghosts are his friends. As strange tales of bears, crocodiles, magic narrowboats and apocalyptic tribes begin to manifest themselves, Rees embarks on a psychedelic journey across time and into the dark heart of London.
Marshland is a deep map of the east London marshes, a blend of local history, folklore and weird fiction, where nothing is quite as it seems. Gareth E Rees has written a London text like no other.
Marshland contains striking illustrations from artist Ada Jusic.
Praise for Marshland
'Layered London, black, funny, marshy, full of horrible vigour & hidden channels.'
– M John Harrison.
'This idiosyncratic bumbleburst of local history, folklore and informed creativity captures the marshes as vividly as any book ever could . . . This is first-class writing that slithers between genres like an eel in a library. One day, all books will be written like this.'
'Marshland is essential reading – a psychedelic trip into London’s secret wilderness.'
– John Rogers
'Whatever it is, New Weird, Cryptozoology, Psychogeography or Deep Map, Marshland is simply essential reading for anyone engaged in locality, the literature of place, the sociology of hinterlands, the pressure points between the human and the natural or just lovers of darned good writing.'
'Rees is an annuated, psychogeographic Tintin, complete with Snowy, but confined by grown-up responsibilities: follow him on his adventures and you won’t go far in space but, my word, you will in every other dimension.'
'Marshland is very much a document of the old, weird London, and its enduring hold on the imagination.'
'Marshland is a delirious tapestry of tales and adventures in the marshes of London; it mixes first hand accounts of wandering with suspicious histories and wild, closed and obsessive fictions. Its initial and abrupt shifts of perspective settle quickly into a spectral ecology that weaves together its trangressive bodies of concrete history and memory with a Polaroid immediacy and yet seemingly beyond the ken of any organisation.'
'Marshland is an ode to the East London wilderness. The area encompassing Hackney, Leyton, and Walthamstow marshes provides a surreal and dreamlike setting where time, as Rees puts it, is “in a perpetual remix.” It flows forward, pulls back, curls in on itself . . . Decades are superimposed on each other like waves stretching across the sand.'
'Meticulously researched, clever and thoughtful, Gareth Rees weaves his experiences and research on the past, present and future of Hackney marshes into a psychedelic mix of fact and fantasy. At times mystifying, bizarre and hilarious, Rees deftly explores his chosen corner of London with verve and imagination. It’s a virtuoso performance, inspiring, unique and strangely beautiful.'
'Marshland is a rich tapestry of themes, styles and voices. Gareth Rees draws the reader in with what initially seems to be a straightforward and comfortable walking guide through the marshes of East London. Then, suddenly, he whisks us away on a magic carpet ride of myth, fiction, poetry, natural history and archaeology.'
'Marshland will make you look at your own environment in a different light.'
'Marshland is autobiography, psychogeography, mythogeography, history, personal journey, psychedelic discovery, even a soundtrack. Rees turns the landscape and the Lea into actors as people and nature fight back.'
'It is this margin that Gareth Rees explores. Like a 21st Century Kay Harker, he explores a world in which the lines between imagination and reality are continually blurred.'
'This book is an example of what all psychedelic psychogeography should, but too often sadly fails, to be: readable and entertaining.
'Like a 21st Century Kay Harker, he explores a world in which the lines between imagination and reality are continually blurred.'
– Chris Lambert, author of Tales from the Black Meadow
'This is the kind of book I've been wanting to see more of from environmental writers, taking a place seriously in ALL its dimensions from the social to the artistic to the historical to the imaginative to the polluted.'
– Steve Himmer, author of The Bee-Loud Glade
'Highly recommended hallucinogenic forage through weird London landscapes.'
– Peter Watts
'Marshland is exemplary as an edgelands text.'
'Writing a Deep Map: Non-Fiction's Challenge To The Contemporary Novel' by Gareth E. Rees
– The Quietus
– 3:AM Magazine
– The Learned Pig
– Alluvium Journal
– Hackney Gazette
About the author and illustrator
Gareth E. Rees runs the website Unofficial Britain. His essays and stories appear in Walking Inside Out: Contemporary British Psychogeography (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015) Mount London: Ascents In the Vertical City (Penned in the Margins, 2014), The Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures (Ashgate, 2013), Acquired for Development By: A Hackney Anthology (Influx Press, 2012), and the album with Jetsam, A Dream Life of Hackney Marshes (Clay Pipe Music, 2013).
Ada Jusic was born in Sarajevo and studied illustration in London. She is a resident artist at Southbank Centre.
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9571693-9-5
ePub ISBN: 978-0-9927655-0-7
Publication date: 28 October 2013
Format: Paperback, ePub and mobi