Lights Out for the Territory: 9 Excursions in the Secret History of London
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Lights Out for the Territory: 9 Excursions in the Secret History of London

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  221 ratings  ·  17 reviews
This is a record of long journeys on foot, from Hackney to Chingford and down to the river, around the City in its "ring of steel", and through the heart of Westminster, Lambeth and Millbank. Sinclair writes about the graffiti and guerrilla politics of Dalston, about the cult of feral dogs, and helps to bury Ron Kray. He gains access to Lord Archer's apartment overlooking...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published January 23rd 1997 by Granta Books (first published January 1st 1997)
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Jonfaith
Perhaps it is simply Sinclair overloard (1000 pages of his in two weeks), perhaps the concurrent surfeit of images from London dissuaded me. I felt this text was inferior to London Orbital; I also collapsed to a minimal degree per some of Sinclair's personal bifurcations (to cite Roubaud) which I felt flat. His poetic waxing on pitbull culture was an ever-so-prescient for a rasher of recent events. Sinclair's stories overflow with woe yet they amaze and elicit.
Tom
I liked parts of this book. Sinclair knows his way round a sentence and I enjoyed his self-conscious prose. However, this is more a collection of fairly fragmented essays on obscure artists, poets and film-makers, tied together with the vague conceit of the author as a tongue-in-cheek Flâneur in London. Although I enjoyed the sections on Patrick Keiller and Chris Petit and the brief cameo from Howard Marks I didn’t engage as much on some of the longer sections on conceptual and performance artis...more
Ben
At times brilliantly inventive and eye-opening, at times frustratingly oblique and obscure, I found this book a frustration and a delight in almost equal measure.

Sinclair's 'psychogeographic' meanderings through the underground history, culture and communities of various parts of London is an acquired taste, and a piece of writing that requires significant application by the reader.

Despite my interest in London geography(having studied the course at a London university) I found some of Sinclair'...more
Dan Scott
If you want a completely different view of London and all her secrets read this book! Sinclair and his fellow students of psychogeography (dread word!) tie up the connections between London ley lines, Hawksmoor's churches, Canary Wharf and "Blow Up" (vale Antonioni.)
Have an A-Z handy too...
Companion volume is London Orbital
Tosh
Jun 28, 2008 Tosh rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who travel within... big cities
What a great odd (eccentric?) book about one's city which is called London. But it's a London that many will not know. The loose term would be psycho-geography. Touring one's city with fresh eyes or just to drift among the architecture and its people. One picks up history like it was trash left over the night before.

The Surrealists, specifically Andre Breton, started to walk through a cityscape without a map at times, but always keeping the eyes and ears open for new discoveries or new ways to f...more
Candy Wood
The subtitle, "9 excursions in the secret history of London," indicates what this book is about, and Sinclair does cover a lot of territory, both familiar and unfamiliar if not exactly secret. The excursion format allows for an enjoyably loose organization: this isn't a guidebook, and it joins together versions of several pieces that were written at different times for periodicals. Sinclair's London is in books and films as well as on the ground and in the imagination. For example, the section c...more
DJ J
I always felt the hidden gems of a city aren't something you'll find in a tourist guide, but hidden lives steadily lived. Iain Sinclair is a master at bringing the hidden people and economies of a city to surface. Sinclair's London and Luc Sante's New York writing are rare accounts of the the invisible architecture connecting a city to it's people.

I read this while on a recent trip to London thinking I'd also use the Museum of London's "streetmuseum" iPhone app, but I quickly realized the best w...more
Alex George
One of the best books about London ever written. Utterly brilliant. Staggering writing.
Internotional Times
The essential Sinclair book, with some of his later excursions across, around and within London coming off as an attempt to recapture this book's intense richness and breathless excitement as he brings to life the London that can be lived in.
Although I am averse, in general, to eulogists of London who, altogether, grossly overstate its global cultural/historical ascendancy, what Sinclair has done here is provide a practical method to remake a city, any city. He achieves this with a combination...more
Joe
Very enjoyable read. Dragged in certain chapters, but more than made up for it in others. I loved the connections he makes and the ground he covers.
Leslie
Parts of this were brilliant, but after a while I started to feel like I was listening in on a conversation about people I don't know, that I was alone at a party where everybody else went back years and was full of news about old friends and acquaintances, about this person's new film project and that one's art installation and someone else's self-published poetic masterpiece, and the only way I could get in on the fun was to have read all the same books and participated in all the same happeni...more
Nicholas Flower
Dense, complex and enthralling, Sinclair riffs on London in wild cluttered prose that echoes the intense life and history of the city itself. Every page sparks a digression and every digression a point of further study. Along with London Orbital this book constructs the only kind of meaningful picture of.a city sagging under the weight of its own past, giving life to the buildings and people and the very streets that comprise it.
Roisin
This is a brilliant and interesting book of journeys around London, that will resonate if you are familiar with some of the hidden gems that exist, some of which are now lost. If you are not, there is enough wonderful pieces of knowledge, places, people and culture to encourage anyone new or not to Sinclair to want to wander and discover the world of Mr Sinclair.
Mira
An crazy/entertaining/violent/funny/etc journey through the streets and areas of London. Probably the most readable historical text you will ever read. Sinclair covers the criminal underworld of turn-of-the-century London and beyond, the early world of the British publishing industry, street art, the occult, and much more.
Lysergius
Journeys across London. Myth, leylines and conspiracies mixed with cinema criticism and history. Quite compelling. Makes me want to read the rest of his stuff. Highly commended. There is even a lovely picture of Howard (Mr Nice) Marks rolling a spliff outside MI6.
Michael
I thought this would be better,but unlike the classic London Orbital too much time is spent not on the interesting journeys around london but on the author waffling about obscure artists and other such rubbish.
The film stuff at the end is brilliant though.
Mark Vallianatos
psychogeography in action/ analysis. I don't know london well so there's a fog to some of the details, places, history but the style is beautifully incisive & many of the references he effortlessly casts off are worth looking up
Simon
Simon marked it as to-read
Sep 06, 2014
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Iain Sinclair is a British writer and film maker. Much of his work is rooted in London, most recently within the influences of psychogeography.

Sinclair's education includes studies at Trinity College, Dublin, where he edited Icarus, the Courtauld Institute of Art (University of London), and the London School of Film Technique (now the London Film School).

His early work was mostly poetry, much of i...more
More about Iain Sinclair...
London Orbital Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire: A Confidential Report White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings Downriver Dining on Stones

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“The faster we walk, the more ground we lose.” 3 likes
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