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Lights Out for the Territory
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Lights Out for the Territory

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  328 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Walking the streets of London, Iain Sinclair traces nine routes across the territory of the capital. Connecting people and places, redrawing boundaries both ancient and modern, reading obscure signs and finding hidden patterns, Sinclair creates a fluid snapshot of the city. In Lights Out for the Territory he gives us a daring, provocative, enlightening, disturbing and utte ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published October 2nd 2003 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published January 1st 1997)
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3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  328 ratings  ·  26 reviews

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Aug 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 12, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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'
Jun 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Dan Scott
Sep 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Like the television work of Jonathan Meades, Iain Sinclair is devoted to taking the built environment apart piece by piece, history and biography and graffiti all at once, and does so with a particular talent for turning a phrase ("the Cypriot tailor who sent the Krays to the Old Bailey looking like Romanian secret servicemen at a wedding," par exemple). As a 'merican, I'm not getting half as much out of this as my British co-worker who periodically interrupts my work to chortle at a line from t ...more
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
Dax J
Jul 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Alex George
Oct 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books about London ever written. Utterly brilliant. Staggering writing.
Laura Lam
Read a 45 page excerpt for grad school.
Waverly Fitzgerald
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
Appropriately there is no way to categorize this book in any of my pre-constructed categories unless I began a new one for psychogeography. I really want to read this book but this is my second attempt and I just can't get too far. Too many references to places and customs and people and artists who I don't know. And yet I love the language and recognize that this is my favorite kind of book, one about a person who is wandering through a place and weaving a web of cultural and historical snippet ...more
Errol Orhan
The idea of psychogeography is fascinating, and the chapter on the Grail interested me because I am interested in the Grail. However, if I were to explain that psychogeography is, my explanation would probably be found wanting. The feeling that I understand what it means, however is strong, and I thank the author for imparting the idea on me.

I gave the book two starts for sharing the idea with me, and I look forward to reading Alan Moore's Jerusalem to get to know a bit more about the idea. The
Jon Mann
I think this book requires a resident's understanding of London. I can enjoy the writing, but the observations of geography and culture are never going to hit home for me. To be dipped into, when in the mood.
This idiosyncratic book is sometimes amusing, sometimes irksome. I suppose you might learn something about London, but I as I read I thought, "this guy is trying to show how clever he is".
Stephen Redwood
There's no doubting the erudition of Sinclair, which sparkles in virtually every sentence. The book is supposedly about London, but really the places and people he visits or describes are launch pads for a disquisition on whatever interests him, from graffiti to houses to the river to all sorts of individuals, recognizable and obscure. At the level of detail and abstraction he gets to it demands close reading and can be difficult to follow. So, while often fascinating, it is abstruse at times. F ...more
Michael K
Feb 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Nicholas Flower
Aug 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Gabriel Clarke
Oct 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished-in-2015
Or 7/10 perhaps. Though maybe I should give up the whole impossible of grading books, unless I stick rigorously to marking them against their standards. Tricky. Anyway, this is the first Sinclair text I've read from end to end. I suspect it isn't his best (the fragments cannot be made to cohere) but there's much to enjoy. A skeptical but dedicated psychogeographer.
Jun 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: myth-and-legend
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.
Sep 21, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: travel
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
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book changed my way of thinking about literature. Content-wise, it's one man going for a few walks, which is fine, but it's the style, rhythm and cadence of the writing that make it so special. Sinclair's peak was probably '94 through to around 2001, but the pinnacle is probably this one.
Feb 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
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Jeff Weir
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Hugo Romero
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Nov 30, 2012
Martha Flanagan
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Apr 30, 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
“The faster we walk, the more ground we lose.” 7 likes
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