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London Orbital: 04/22/08
London Orbital by Iain Sinclair is an interesting counterpoint to Mrs. P's Journey by Sarah Hartley. It is part map and part memoir of the outer fringes of London where the M25 makes its 125 mile (give or take) loop around the city.
Sinclair's walk in the late 1990s was inspired by his hatred for the Millennium dome. Walking and mapping the areas around the M25 became a way to cleanse the palette. He broke the walk up into seven parts, working anticlockwise around the fringes of the highway.
I enjoyed the first half of the book but as he came around the back half of his travels it became more of the same. Six hundred pages was just more time than I wanted to spend touring along the edge of the M25. The book could have been shorter with fewer asides and tangents.
I think that readers more familiar with the area will find the book more interesting. Likewise, I don't know that a Londoner who had never been to East Bay would find Castro Valley all that interesting either. While it wasn't among my favorite nonfiction books I've read so far this year, I did learn a few things. I recommend this book to readers familiar with London. Readers who aren't should take the book slowly and have a map handy.