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In Transit

Geoff Dyer: Garry Winogrand, 20 June 2013

... I didn’t make it to the huge Garry Winogrand retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco but if the very large catalogue is anything to go by the show was obviously … not nearly big enough!* How could it have been? Winogrand is inexhaustible. There’s probably more to look at in a Winogrand photo than in one by anyone else (part of the attraction of a wide-angle lens was the way it enabled him not only to get more people in the picture but also to cram the frame, so to speak, with the space between them) and still we want more photographs ...

Realty Meltdown

Geoff Dyer, 24 August 1995

Independence Day 
by Richard Ford.
Harvill, 451 pp., £14.99, July 1995, 1 86046 020 8
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... Richard Ford’s narrator, Frank Bascombe, quit serious writing to become a sports-writer. This was the making of Ford. It wasn’t until he became Bascombe, the sportswriter, that Ford turned himself into a major novelist. At odd moments in The Sportswriter, Frank looks back on his abandoned literary career. He had published a ‘promising’ collection of stories, Blue Autumn, and had then started on a novel which he never finished ...


Geoff Dyer: Why Can’t I See You?, 3 April 2014

... For at least a decade I’ve been telling anyone who would listen that I wanted to end my days in California. One of the people I said this to, in San Francisco, was quick to put me right: you don’t end your days in California, you begin them. I was happy to be corrected in this distinctly Californian way, but when we eventually got here it seemed that I might have been right after all ...

How Dare He?

Jenny Turner: Geoff Dyer, 11 June 2009

Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi 
by Geoff Dyer.
Canongate, 295 pp., £12.99, April 2009, 978 1 84767 270 4
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... I had envied them sometimes,’ Geoff Dyer writes in Out of Sheer Rage, his 1997 book about D.H. Lawrence. ‘Those in work, those with jobs. Especially on a Friday night when, relieved that it was over for another week, they could down tools and look forward to two days of uninterrupted idleness.’ He’s sitting in hot sunshine outside a café in Taormina, supposedly researching his subject’s ‘savage pilgrimage’ but actually getting on with what turns out to be the book’s real business, which is to obsess at length about what he himself, writer, flâneur, free-floating stoner, is supposedly doing with his life ...

No Longer Handsome

William Skidelsky: Geoff Dyer, 25 September 2003

Yoga for People who Can't Be Bothered to Do It 
by Geoff Dyer.
Abacus, 238 pp., £10.99, April 2003, 0 316 72507 2
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... Geoff Dyer announced recently that he wasn’t ‘very interested in character and not remotely interested in story or plot’. For someone who writes novels (I hesitate to use the word ‘novelist’), this is a striking admission. Dyer, who was born in 1958, has so far written three ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: New Writing, 8 March 2001

... Brownjohn, Helen Simpson, Andrew Motion, Michael Hofmann, Alan Sillitoe, Louis de Bernières and Geoff Dyer are ten of them, and ‘new’ isn’t the first word that springs to mind. But there are plenty of good reasons, too obvious to need repeating, for the inclusion of well-known writers, and it’s not as if the book makes any bones about it – it ...

Agreeing with Berger

Peter Campbell, 19 March 1987

Ways of Telling: The Work of John Berger 
by Geoff Dyer.
Pluto, 186 pp., £4.95, December 1986, 0 7453 0097 9
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... and films. This varied body of work hangs together. The epigraph to the first chapter of Geoff Dyer’s book, a quotation from 1956 – ‘I am a political propagandist ... But my heart and eye have remained those of a painter’ – could apply equally well to the later work at the other end of the book. I began reading Berger’s reviews in ...

At the Royal Academy

Peter Campbell: Rodin, 5 October 2006

... displayed in the exhibition. They are also published as a book, Apropos Rodin, with an essay by Geoff Dyer.† Few of them are straightforward records. Some are close-up details in which the ridges where sections of the mould meet slow the eye as it reads the form. In others the view through a case is interrupted by a reflection. In pictures of marbles ...

Complicated System of Traps

Michael Wood: Geoff Dyer’s ‘Zona’, 19 July 2012

Zona: A Book about a Film about a Journey to a Room 
by Geoff Dyer.
Canongate, 228 pp., £16.99, February 2012, 978 0 85786 166 5
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... watching her, fading to black’. The film we have been seeing through these two hundred pages of Dyer’s memory and prose is Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979), a science fiction movie that doesn’t so much transcend the genre as pervert it, turn it over to the history of religion – or perhaps the history of doubt. The eyes belong to a girl described in ...

Short Cuts

Tom Crewe: The State of Statuary, 21 September 2017

... at them properly that they seem stranded, shipwrecked by history. ‘Age may not weary them,’ Geoff Dyer has written of the army of bronze soldiers on permanent guard at First World War memorials, ‘but … powerless to protect themselves, their only defence, like that of the blind, is our respect.’ Putting aside, for a moment, the vexed presences ...

In Service

Anthony Thwaite, 18 May 1989

The Remains of the Day 
by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Faber, 245 pp., £10.99, May 1989, 0 571 15310 0
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I served the King of England 
by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by Paul Wilson.
Chatto, 243 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 7011 3462 3
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Beautiful Mutants 
by Deborah Levy.
Cape, 90 pp., £9.95, May 1989, 0 224 02651 8
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When the monster dies 
by Kate Pullinger.
Cape, 173 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 9780224026338
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The Colour of Memory 
by Geoff Dyer.
Cape, 228 pp., £11.95, May 1989, 0 224 02585 6
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Sexual Intercourse 
by Rose Boyt.
Cape, 160 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 0 224 02666 6
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The Children’s Crusade 
by Rebecca Brown.
Picador, 121 pp., £10.95, March 1989, 0 330 30529 8
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... time I was too jaded to be stirred. The inhabitants of When the monster dies live in Vauxhall. Geoff Dyer’s people in The Colour of Memory live in Brixton. Their sense of the awfulness of everything is almost indistinguishable. Here are three consecutive and not exceptional paragraphs: We walked to Stockwell tube, moaning about what a piss-bin ...

Who would you have been?

Jessica Olin: No Kids!, 27 August 2015

Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids 
edited by Meghan Daum.
Picador, 282 pp., £17.99, May 2015, 978 1 250 05293 3
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... like children.” I was a child, I want to say.’ With few exceptions (notably, gleefully, Geoff Dyer) these writers don’t object to children per se, but to the narrowing of perspective – what Dyer calls ‘an appalling form of myopia’ – and the swallowing up of one’s own identity that often seem to ...

On Not Going Home

James Wood, 20 February 2014

... I gorge on nostalgia, on fondnesses that might have embarrassed me when I lived in Britain. Geoff Dyer writes funnily, in Out of Sheer Rage, about the obsession with reading the TV listings in English papers he developed when he was living in Italy, even though he had never watched TV when he lived in England, and didn’t like it. To hear a ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2019, 2 January 2020

... more hopeful than I was expecting. Looking for a book to read in bed, I take down as I think Geoff Dyer’s The Missing of the Somme. It seems less chatty than I remember and it’s only when I come to the end of the first chapter on the Thiepval arch that I realise it’s not by Geoff Dyer but (though ...

Praeludium of a Grunt

Tom Crewe: Charles Lamb’s Lives, 19 October 2023

Dream-Child: A Life of Charles Lamb 
by Eric G. Wilson.
Yale, 521 pp., £25, January 2022, 978 0 300 23080 2
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... he cannot fit the stature of his understanding to yours.’ Of his friend the dotty scholar George Dyer: ‘With long poring, he is grown almost into a book. He stood as passive as one by the side of the old shelves. I longed to new coat him in russia, and assign him to his place.’ In a marvellous vignette, Lamb makes a ‘sentiment’ – an English ...

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