Dyer For People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Read It

I’ve just finished one of those books one reads from time to time that says, “Yes, this is how it’s done—write one like this, you lazy bastard”: Geoff Dyer’s Yoga For People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It. I’d recommend it to anyone (especially anyone over the age of thirty), even if it does make my own bits and pieces seem futile. For some of the ideas in my off-stage, will-he-ever-finish-it travel book, Dyer comes perilously close to stealing my thunder, taking it down to Thor’s House of Thunder Repairs, and re-conditioning it as extra-decibel, off-the-Richter-scale thunder that makes my original thunder sound like an underpowered sneeze. Fortunately he and I haven’t been to exactly the same places; unfortunately (for me as writer, but fortunately for me as reader), Dyer captures some of the universals of travel and early middle-age so well that it seems redundant to write on the same themes. He’s that good.

What this book isn’t, though, is any of the following, as plastered all over the cover:

  • Screamingly funny.
  • The funniest book I have read for a very long time.
  • [Something which meant that] at times I was reduced to helpless laughter.

What is it with blurb writers? Do they not get out much? Is their comedy scale calibrated against old episodes of Charles in Charge? Dyer’s book is often funny, but this makes it sound like one of those joke-a-page travel books in the vein of Tony Hawks. (No slight on Hawks, whose Playing the Moldovans at Tennis I still rate highly.) As a selling tool it works, I suppose, because I bought the thing hoping I’d found another Tim Moore. But I would have bought it anyway if they’d played down the “oh my god your bowels will rupture with larfter” angle and played up “this man is intelligent without seeming detached from reality, witty without seeming corny, writes beautifully without seeming mannered, and taps into the devastating sense of nihilism that all of us feel in our worst moments without leaving us there at the end of the book”.

I’ll be on the lookout for more, although it sounds like he’s one of those writers who hops from genre to genre and leaves behind an uncategorizable body of work (hmm, sounds familiar). Meanwhile, here’s some of his writing and a couple of interviews:

12 June 2006 · Books

Learn more about E-Learning, Politics and Society with Edinburgh University’s online MSc in E-Learning.

←Quote UnquoteEyes Open Under the Iron Sea→