Nell Dunn's scenes of London life, as it was lived in the early Sixties in the industrial slums of Battersea, have few parallels in contemporary writing. The exuberant, uninhibited, disparate world she found in the tired old streets and under the railway arches is recaptured in these closely linked sketches; and the result is pure alchemy. In the space of 120 perfect pages, we witness clip-joint hustles, petty thieving, candid sexual encounters, casual birth and casual death. She has a superb gift for capturing colloquial speech and the characters observed in these pages convey that caustic, ironic, and compassionate feeling for life, in which a turn of phrase frequently contains startling flashes of poetry. Battersea, that teeming wasteland of brick south of the Thames, has found its poet in Nell Dunn and Up the Junction is her touchingly truthful and timeless testimonial to it.