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on 17 September 2007
From the Radio 4 introduction with the writer prior to release this book was clear in it`s intentions of a journey behind the nightlife of a 24-7 city throughout it`s history as a commercial centre. A poetic and informed eccentric and rather wonderful journey of vast imagination and fact. I found it thrilling and informative but then I was clear what the book would be from the Radio 4 programme. Thoughtful and inspired and a real shared journey. No one should view London night life the same. I agree with the reviewer about never looking at one`s fellow commuters again in the same light. It really brings you behind the scenes and into a new way of looking at things.Ideally read at night or one for the tube. I thought this book was excellent and well worth buying. Wonderful language, ideas,characters ( real people ) and food for thought throughout. An excellent read. I really enjoyed it.
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on 17 April 2011
Sukhdev Sandhu's slim but enlightening volume is an anthology of essays about those whose job it is to keep London working during the night. He talks to pest control workers, minicab drivers, those who answer the phones for the late shift at the Samaritans, and a slightly suspect exorcist, among others (sex workers are strangely absent from the book). All of the essays are interesting, (with some being inevitably better than others) and the essays work together very well to produce an intriguing portrait of the urbanized human at night, a peculiar creature estranged and dissociated from daylight society.

The majority of reviewers here seem to find Sandhu's prose pretentious, but this is psychogeography, and it goes with the territory. Also, if the pretentiousness occasionally gives way to exhilarating, bravura writing such as the first chapter, about London's airborne police and their singular relationship with the city, then that's fine by me. A unique and fascinating book.
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on 21 February 2008
I love London and its many different facets and layer upon layer of experience and history, so I love books about London that explore these facets, which is why I picked up Night Haunts. While I can sympathise with one of my fellow reviewers that perhaps Sandhu's sentences were a bit too pretentious for their own good, I think for the most part you can and should overlook that to find a real gem of a book.

I did wish that he let the actual people speak for themselves more - you want to hear more of their insights - but Sandhu isn't trying to be Studs Terkel so once you accept that, the book takes on its own voice. My favourite chapters were on the avian police and the sleep researchers but all of the chapters reveal something new or startling about London - and the people of London. The sewer worker who said that during the day people really do behave like rats - climbing over each other to get to trains or exits without regard for one another. The way he says it with such disgust and the way he describes it - I can't look at my fellow commuters in the same way anymore. And I feel ashamed when I fall into that rat trap.

Little things like that make this book worthwhile as it makes you look at your surroundings anew. Now out of my way, I need to catch a train ...
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on 5 May 2012
Those criticising the book for its poetics are missing the point. It seems to me that the whole idea of Night Haunts is to reclaim the poetry of the night. This isn't that heading in your Lonely Planet guide entitled 'What To Do At Night', rather, that Idea polarized. Sukhdev looks at night life as something other than piss heads and VIP bars and details the lives of those that keep everything ticking- the shadow lands where nobody's looking...the secret nocturnal adventures being had when the rest of us are in dreamland. This is first and foremost a very revealing travel book; that there is poetry involved only further evokes Sukhdev's night world. A brilliantly strange melange of ideas wrapped up in a short but beautiful book.
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on 21 October 2007
A curious set of vignettes featuring people who work at night in
contemporary London. Very poetic, and some of the best malapropisms
I've seen for a long time. At times it almost feels like it's almost trying too
hard to live up to its illustrious forbearers such as Mayhew, but it's still
worth giving this slim volume a read.
Recommended.
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on 31 December 2007
Very enjoyable collection, describing the author's meetings with various Londoners who work through the night. I thought the subjects were well-chosen and well-drawn. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on graffiti artists, the sleep technicians and the final chapter on the Nuns of Tyburn

This is a slim volume, and the treatment of each subject is correspondingly brief. This meant that after having finished a chapter I did occasionally find myself wanting a little more. Nevertheless, Sandhu writes with great lyricism and I enjoyed the language a great deal. I generally prefer relatively straightforward writing, but felt that the book almost always managed to be expressive and exuberant without unnecessary complication or fussiness.
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on 1 March 2009
Brief account of some aspects of those who live in London by night. Evocative and subjective, it contains a bibliography unreferenced to the text. In the area I am most familiar with I would question some facts stated, which inclines me to wonder about others. Distinctly more accessible than the work of Mr Iain Sinclair though rather less thorough than Mr Ed Glinert.
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on 2 February 2008
I can't believe the New Statesman et al takes this absurd, self-indulgent little book seriously....
I picked it up because the subject matter is fascinating. And it would be a fascinating read, if this guy just wrote about it - rather than produce contorted, posturing, up-his-backside sentences that verge on the meaningless. I couldn't finish it (slender though it is) but I did get quite a few laughs as I read chunks out loud to whoever I happened to be with. Rather than slag it off any more, here's a passage from page 100. Judge for yourselves. And if you have any idea what the words 'gay liberation' mean when ascribed to a block of flats, please do tell. Here goes:

"As we move towards Greenwich, and then to St Pauls, new apartments dazzle with gay-liberation and graffiti-bright colours. The city's sky-line has changed, the church spires and cathedral domes that gave it spiritual elevation supplanted by blobs and bee-hives and trout-pouted constructions seemingly imported from lego-land. The bridges gleam like candelabras. The Dome, built on poisonous junkspace from toxic strata of acid, coal and asbestos, still looks paralysed and absurd, an upturned crab unable to move. Canary wharf, stiff and bemoneyed, its uptight verticality in contrast to the river's shifting, curvy horizontality, blazes out light: a bonfire of London's soul."

Uh? See what I mean? Canary Wharf, a 'bonfire of London's soul'? Maybe I'm too prosaic, but I don't quite get that... Nor the 'trout-pouted' bit, either.
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on 26 February 2008
Dyson's review is spot on so there's no point repeating. i gave up way before page 100 after reading about the plight of cleaners at the start of their working day

"...some have had to cut the last minutes of their evening law classes in order to clock on promptly...others have been on the phone for hours trying desperately to get someone to look after their sick kids for them."

and descriptions of previous jobs back home - "junior school teachers who taught orphaned children to read books."

You don't have to do much to make these cleaning jobs sound miserable but the hysterical attempts at poignancy succeeded only in turning everything on its head - I shouldn't have been laughing whilst reading these stories but I was.
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on 7 January 2013
very nice infomative book a real london life

very informative about life at night of london a true story about london life must read book
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