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on 30 July 2017
the best for psychogeography beginner
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on 8 August 2017
Good quick guide
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on 25 January 2015
I'll save you the labour of reading this masterpiece of vagueness, those of you with the 'tl;dr' disposition: pick up any book by Sinclair, Debord, Ackroyd or Defoe and you have a far better chance of grasping what 'psychogeography' is than anything this glib affair has to offer.

Merlin, Merlin. I wanted to like this. I wanted to know more about 'psychogeography' as a term and a process of writing. I had faith that buying a book with the overtly succinct title 'PSYCHOGEOGRPHY' would at least go some distance in supplying answers to my questions. Sadly I am, all things considered, really none the wiser.

Where this book fails is threefold. First: it is structurally terrible and reads incredibly superficially. The sections, although some might say are 'clearly defined', do not really have much internal logic to them (why write about Stevenson and Blake, then for some reason bolt Watkins and theories of leylines onto the end of the chapter?). These subsections do not mesh all that well or chart a particularly clear chronological progression of 'psychogeography' in the sense that one might feel comfortable with. It flits choppily, and does not have a clear trajectory. What little information is given about each author is meagre and can't be more than 500 words in places, reminiscent of emaciated undergraduate degree essays where the threat of a word limit creates a frenzied culling of what would otherwise be perfectly acceptable - and probably necessary - analysis to flesh things out. Perhaps this is the fault of the publisher insisting on commissioning a pocket edition of something clearly more involved than 150 pages, large font print, would allow? I don't know. I don't really care anymore either, as there are far better authors to read (see above).

To be fair, and for the sake of balance, the section on Debord is clearly the best and is almost somewhat enjoyable despite the fact it is far too short. Perhaps the book itself would have been better centred on Debord and the Situationists as a touchstone rather than shamelessly name-dropping and writing ultra-compact précis to excess on each and every author who might have some connection to psychogeography. (He misses a few, too, by the way - and while I'm at it, what about psychogeographer poets? There are none mentioned here at all, despite Sinclair being a writer and poet).

Second: the theory just isn't there. At the start, Coverley says 'I will be discussing the origins and theoretical underpinning of term [psychogeography]' but this is a wholly half-baked fudge of a statement, as to my mind he does not offer any theoretical underpinning of what HE believes the term to be, only what others have to say about it. This compounds the problem in my first complaint about structure. The roots of the term, such as the etymology of 'psychogeography' and theories denoting space, place and what constitutes geography and perhaps a well-conceived explanation of what the term might represent in modern society is eclipsed by a patchy (and ultimately fruitless) exposition of the concept of the flâneur and the situationists. Where is the geography? Where is the land? The dirt and soil? The impact of this on writing and the mind? Which leads me to...

Third: the whole book is essentially an over-embellished reading list of authors, who are mainly, largely (and come to think of it, ONLY) concerned with psychogeography as an URBAN phenomenon. This is misleading and thoroughly untrue. Rural communities and wild landscapes are surely equally able to contribute to psychogeographic phenomena, of which Coverley is systematically phobic of committing himself to. Through distracting himself with - and limiting himself to - Paris and London, there seems to be a void of rural critique. I feel this is hugely disappointing and damaging to 'psychogeography' as a whole.

What is actually more troubling is the thinly-veiled attempt to discredit Ackroyd's work - claiming that he does not fit into the radical left-wing canon of psychogeography and damning any perceived 'conservative' aspects of his writing - despite Ackroyd himself claiming to not like or use 'psychogeography' as a means of describing his work, or, indeed, himself as a 'psychogeographer'. This is a poor, subjective, and needless addition to what is already a shallow and ill-conceived book.

I know this is a pocket book. I know that there is only so much that can be done or said in 150 pages. But I feel that this was a missed opportunity to actually lay down something more concrete than simply name dropping and surface-analysing a myriad of authors with sometimes vague associations with 'psychogeography'. If you are studying a module at university on psychogeography or writing and landscape, this is a pointless addition to a reading list. Go and read the writers mentioned in the bibliography - it will save you the few hours of teeth-grinding frustration and eye-watering banality that Mr. Coverley presents with relish in 'PSYCHOGEOGRAPHY'.
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on 5 January 2011
This book out of all others I have looked at for understanding psychogeography - its history, influences, definition, and urban wandering and the people involved.Its an easy read and really motivates you to do your own psychogeography whilst walking - you can take yourself, your dog, friend, child or invisible traveler - who knows!
It has been so beneficial for me in writing my thesis about identity to place - it helps explain in an interesting way what places we live in the world and how they change all the time in a physical sense with the same speed as the latest fashion or tv channels - without us realising... you will see your home town, street appear in a new way.... there are some great artists utilising these concepts all the time and this is the reason I selected this book and so glad I had because Coverley covers this topic really well and I applaud him.
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on 29 May 2008
I bought this on the strength of the other reviews and wish now I hadn't wasted my money. The book is badly produced (you need a better editor, proof reader, and setter, Mr C), is extremely narrow in its scope, and concentrates only on those aspects of the subject that are already well known.

As a subject, psychogeography predates civilization (pagan peoples knew how geography was integral to psychology). The concentration on recent urban p-g, and the insistence that only London and Paris really count (despite a nod to New York) ignores the long rural tradition as well as p-g in other urban settings around the world.

The author's knowledge and understanding of Alfred Watkins' work and its impact is poor. Which leads one to wonder just how well he really knows the rest of the subject. His attempt to assert that Ackroyd is outside the tradition as he somehow conservative rather misses the point that urba p-g as a whole is both conservative and somewhat obsessed with the notion of a golden age.

Where the book does have a strength is in pointing out that for some people p-g is a method to some other end rather than an end in itself. Attempts to turn it into a science have so far met with failure simply because the amount of data required to make any form of realistic assessment are simply overwhelming. As an artistic method (particularly in literature and film) it is highly sucessful as it seems that an artistic sensibility and sensitivity are required to process and interpret a landscape and the figures that move within it.

There are better books on the subject. But anyone wanting to know what p-gis would be far better off seeking out p-g artists and writers.
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on 12 November 2008
i have sympathy for the positive and the negative reviews of this book, though i must say i zipped through it and liked it a lot. it is a 'pocket essential' introduction to the ideas of psychogeography. it traces psychogeography from bases in london (defoe, machen, blake, de quincey, sinclair, home, keiller) and paris (baudelaire, benjamin, debord). It introduces the ideas and although there is much left out [i personally think frank o'hara is the psychogeographer of new york] and although it is very london-paris-centric it does raise questions and gives interesting facts. Not bad at all, but I'm waiting on a really really great intro to psychogeography. oh and i agree with the reviewer who said merlin requires a better editor and proof reader. i went looking for chtcheglov's name spelled chtchelgov, since that is how it is spelled at one time in the book, and at others it is spelled correctly. i mean: is it not a difficult enough name as it is???
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on 23 October 2013
This book opens a whole new world to anyone not familiar with the delights and conundrums of urban wandering, and gives confidence to those who are. It describes and echoes the experience and development of an interplay between mind and geographical surroundings in rural or urban scenery. How undull life can be, where once it looked only dreary! How important it is to resist "redevelopmet" that drives out humanity and the past. Also it shows how we can conduct imaginery journeys: rooted in Defoe's Robinsin Crusoe; and how actual wandering was first descibed by Defoe's novel on the London Plague, as the familiar became strange.. Roaming idly and observantly in a small area is definitely not time wasted! Here is a reassertion of humaness against rational mechanical destruction.
A book to open your eyes and mind!
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on 30 October 2009
Despite Pilgrim's mostly accurate (but rather unkind) review, this is an engaging introduction to psychogeography's London/Paris-centric literary aspects. If you take it as a good analysis of this one facet, you'll be more than well enough rewarded. Time for "updated and enlarged" Mr Coverley?
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on 8 May 2012
Overall, this is a good little book; it explores psychogeography in acessible but still thought-provoking terms. It's not an academic book, which makes it all the more readable, but don't expect anything too detailed dense from it. Use this as an introduction to the concepts/contexts etc. It also has a chapter discussing the rooting of psychogeography in London through de Quincey and Stevenson etc., and with it being what I had thought was more of a Parisian concept, that was particularly interesting!
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on 16 February 2009
...although it could have been called "Psychogeography - an overview" or "introduction". Coverly succeeds in giving the reader a cogent, lyrical and sober account of the roots and genetic history of the subject. It could so easily have been a wilfully obscure or overly complicated un-decoding of the subject and ended up as a pretentious meta text that would have succeeded in doing no more than proving how difficult Psychogeography is to pin down, let alone articulate. However, full marks (well, four out of five) to Coverly for writing a book that explains clearly the 'who what how and why' of Psychogeography. The only minor criticism is that there is some repetition of content which makes it read occasionally like a very good undergraduate dissertation. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as at least you do feel as though your are being directed by a passionate voice through the back alleys of this playful and curious subject.
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