Geoff Dyer’s creative engagement with other writers and artists distinguishes much of his work. Out of Sheer Rage is an account of his struggle to write a book about D.H. Lawrence, in which Dyer grapples not only with his fascinating subject but with all the glorious distractions and needling anxieties that define the life of a writer. James Wood, writing for the Guardian, called this genre-defying book “marvelous … a glorious truant from study” and said it “gives a better picture of Lawrence than any biography I know.” Comedian Steve Martin called it simply “the funniest book I have ever read.”
Dyer says his writing process is akin to the “version” phenomena in Jamaican music, where the foundation of an artist’s original recording is repurposed to create an entirely new song. In this spirit, says Dyer, his novel Paris Trance is a version of or response to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night, while Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice serves as the backbone for Dyer’s own Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi. In stressing the role of literary influence in his work, Dyer also quotes George Steiner’s assertion that “latent in every act of complete reading is the compulsion to write a book in reply.”
A selection of Dyer’s work as an essayist, including pieces on writers Denis Johnson, Albert Camus, Don DeLillo, and Susan Sontag, was recently published as Otherwise Known and the Human Condition and won the National Book Critics Circle award. His newest book is Zona: A Book about a Film about a Journey to a Room, in which Dyer explores Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky’s great Stalker.
Otherwise Known as the Human Condition (2011)
Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi (2009)
Yoga For People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It (2003)
Paris Trance (1998)
Out of Sheer Rage (1997)