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3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
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on 17 August 1999
This is an excellent, eccentric and funny book bursting with ideas and descriptions of London, its hidden places and characters.Part history, part sociology, part travel and part weird ramblings, it defies definition and yet it works. The real deight is not knowing where you are going to be taken next. Sinclair's description of Archer and his penthouse is almost worth the cover price alone. Add to that a wonderful bibliography which could keep you busy for a couple of years. Sinclair works hard to entertain the reader on his extraordinary walks with his friend with razor sharp observations which stay in the mind. He sees connections between people and places which seemingly have nothing in common. Wordy and dense yes, but also richly entertaining. If you are interested in the Krays, Derek Raymond, Peter Fuller, Antonioni's "Blow Up", old London churches and cemetaries etc then you will love this heroic book. "Lights Out" will either become a cult book or be remaindered:probably both!
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on 11 October 2010
I have only had time to dip in and out of this wonderful book because I am currently reading about life in Hackney also courtesy of Mr Sinclair.Suffice it to say that his prose is fluid,intelligent and a joy to read I especially enjoyed his account of a putative meeting with Lord Archer.Mr Sinclair's feeling and respect for the history,people and atmosphere of places he knows so well is lightly bourne and delivered in an easy,sumptuous style.
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on 26 February 1999
You don't have to know the Bakers Arms, Walthamstow Tech, or Chingford Mount Cemetary as well as I do to enjoy this eye-opening journey by Iain Sinclair. The words jump off the walls, and encourages anyone to open their eyes next time they take a walk around their local patch. "Free George Davis," or "Nostalgia/Is/A/Weapon," the opinion of the streets becomes interwoven with documented fact and the myth and folk lore of a community. The only mystery, is how Mr. Sinclair missed Walthamstow Cemetary, Queens Road, and The Light House? Perhaps next time?
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on 15 September 2007
the subject is less than serious, and it's a clear reference to the fact that reading this book was really hard, also because I am not a native speaker of english and also because I lack the knowledge of "london" facts.
the subject also refers to the density of information, facts and knowledge on London (and not just london), that this book contains.
it's not been easy to read this book and it's not been easy to appreciate it. often I felt I was about to rule it out as a sort of english Umberto Eco (an intellectual showing off his encyclopedic knowledge of London).
but there is something genuine about Iain Sinclair, and it helped seeing him at a reading at the RFH to have a feeling of someone that is the opposite of a Umberto Eco: a down to earth person.
sometimes you have to let go, let the flow of information get lost in the short term memory; sometimes one has to stop and go back reread, take a note, find a post-it to mark the page, or perhaps even get the shoes, leave the comfort of a sunday read on the couch and venture to a part of London which is not necessarily safe or the best to be (that's in fact another problem: reading this book 12 years down the line doesn't help, because some of the london described by Iain Sinclair no longer exists or it has changed dramatically).
but this is hardly a book calling for a real walk around london: this book is about a long trip deep down in the soul of the city, in an invisible layer where an invisible network connects points , buildings, facts, people who are no longer there, or are not to be seen. THis is a "trip of the mind", into a twilight zone of things that escape the day to day reality.
or it's a period story, telling of people who were coming of age in the recent past, directors, artists, people living on the edge of everything, and how those people interacted, how they crashed, how they delivered their products.
finally, me being italian, I couldn't but appreciate the space given to Antonioni (although it really feels like Iain Sinclair tries to regain some english control of that italian feature), and to his movie that has become so iconic about London.
Now the 400 page book that has been my friend for nearly 7 weeks, lies on the table in front of me full of postit , full of notes, and I wonder if I should go back to it and start all over again, or leave it and move on to the next venture: the orbital!
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on 23 December 2014
I found this book really hard going, I don't like his style of writing and it's over 20 years old so a lot of the anecdotes don't mean much to me as I can't remember that far back. I've given up and I won't be attempting London Orbital
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on 20 July 2007
This is a stunning book. It is one of the books that has influenced me most. It is packed with fascinating London lore and I have been led to seek out many of the people, places, books and curiousities he mentions. Partly as a result of reading this I have gone on to read Derek Raymond and Michael Moorcock. I already loved Alan Moore, who I think lead me to Sinclair in the first place. Anyway, I'm rambling. If you have a taste for the quirky, the arcane, the different, the obscure and the occult, then dive straight in to this book. I must confess that after reading it I expected a lot from Sinclair, but found his fiction and poetry comparitively dissapointing. This is him at his his best, and I look forward to reading London Orbital when I can get round to it.
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on 15 August 2009
Sinclair's erudite and scholarly approach renders visible a London that is neglected, ignored and even widely unknown. It is a unique, dense book, borne of an unrelenting fascination with a city that resides paradoxically in both the past and the present. Drawing together disparate ideas, he examines the fabric of the capital, tracing threads that encompass politics, art, mysticism, conspiracy, literature and religion. Sinclair moves through physical and cultural boundaries, skirting the fringes and engaging with peripheral but perhaps visionary figures as well as identifying forgotten architectural remnants and apparent anomalies in a vast urban sprawl. The London he presents is powerful, provocative and disturbing - through the activities of its inhabitants the city is able to assume such human characteristics. Befitting his background in psychogeography, Sinclair's narrative is shaped through the routes he walks in the city; accompanied by photographer Marc Atkins, he chronicles the dark underbelly of modern urban life.
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on 26 August 2011
Simply, he can not write. If he talked to anybody the way he writes, he would get smacked in the face. That makes it more annoying because the topic is wonderfully interesting. This man is pompous and his annoying style ruins what could have been one of the best books on London. If you want an idea of how bad this book will be to read, dig out his introduction to this book on The Telegraph website. If you get through that article and don't think what a total... you'll love this book. I didn't.
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on 4 December 2009
With "LIGHTS OUT FOR THE TERRITORY" Lights Out for the TerritoryIain Sinclair throws another slant on the history of London - this book does exactly what it says on the tin!!! If, like Suggs, you are greedy for more and more information on our wonderful capital's past, then gorge yourself on every tasty morsel, every fascinating titbit that Iain Sinclair has dished up for us. Feed your sense of humour and your sense of history and buy this book.
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on 3 November 2004
Lights Out for the Territory is a book about London. Iain Sinclair manages to uncover London's subterranean world by walking the city and retrieving its hidden secrets. By doing so, Sinclair brings the reader close to the city and its texts in order to interact with its hidden language. Sinclair's distinctive reading of contemporary London makes him one of the best writers of the twentieth century.
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