From Venice to Varanasi | James Wood on Geoff Dyer

Walter Benjamin once said that every great work dissolves a genre or founds a new one. But is it only masterpieces that have a monopoly on novelty? What if a writer had written several works that rose to Benjamin’s high definition, not all great, perhaps, but so different from one another, so peculiar to their author, and so inimitable that each founded its own, immediately self-dissolving genre? The English writer Geoff Dyer delights in producing books that are unique, like keys. There is nothing anywhere like Dyer’s semi-fictional rhapsody about jazz, “But Beautiful,” or his book about the First World War, “The Missing of the Somme,” or his autobiographical essay about D. H. Lawrence, “Out of Sheer Rage,” or his essayistic travelogue “Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It.” You can spot Dyer’s antecedents and influences—Nietzsche, Roland Barthes, Thomas Bernhard, Milan Kundera, John Berger, Martin Amis—but not his literary children, because his work is so restlessly various that it moves somewhere else before it can gather a family. He combines fiction, autobiography, travel writing, cultural criticism, literary theory, and a kind of comic English whining. The result ought to be a mutant mulch but is almost always a louche and canny delight…

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2009/04/20/090420crbo_books_wood

Advertisements

About hedley1980

i was born 24 february 1980 in johannesburg i found myself in a situation
This entry was posted in Other writers and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.