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Less a travelogue, more a diatribe
on 15 July 2001
What can you say about someone who pokes every eye including his own? In its relentless pursuit of that English national pastime, sneering, this dense thicket of a book encapsulates Wilde's definition of a cynic. Targets range from the Krays to Lord Archer through Thatcher (of course) and anyone else with the temerity to pass before Sinclair's broadcast gaze, including himself. A combination of unremitting carping and abstruse referencing can be tedious, and Lights Out lays out deserts of tedium. But they're nearly worth negotiating for the jewels that come out of them, because Sinclair's obviously no idiot and his hot-and-cold mind can produce gems. He has the uncanny ability to conjure up a scene without describing it in detail, whether it be London's back alleys or the view from Archer's window, pocket-parks or tidewater filth. By the end of the book you feel as if you've spent the longest evening of your life in a pub with an intelligent, but increasingly drunk, companion. As the evening wears on the conversation becomes one-sided, disconnected and relevant only to the speaker. You're glad when he finally runs out of steam and goes home, but the next day you warmly recall the brighter parts of the evening...