Following on from the Dickens post I made on the 22nd, I'm going to post a link to this article by Adam Thirlwell. Dickens, Thirlwell nicely argues, with references to Walter Benjamin, was "London's greatest describer," an artist of the junk world. "His life was spent observing how much a life became a collection of useless, loved objects."
London was managed by a majority of minority trades, all in the business of garbage: bone-pickers, rag-gatherers, pure-finders, dredgermen, toshers. And London’s greatest describer, who converted the ghostly industrial city into a new world of words, was a novelist who could taxonomically and poetically enumerate, say, the varieties of polluted fog.