Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi by Geoff Dyer

DATE PUBLISHED: 2009 DATE READ: April 2009 NOTES: This could be viewed as two discrete novellas but there are (just) enough references and reflections to make the two parts hang together as a unit. Both stories are also travelogues and full of wry observations about hotels, transport, other tourists and the local people. In Jeff in Venice Jeff is a jaded journalist who views everything with a cynical eye – until he meets the lovely Laura. The art exhibits and his attitude to them are done really well (as is his ongoing angst about which parties he has and hasn’t been invited to). In Death in Varanasi he becomes much more in tune with his surroundings as he sinks into a life of cheap beer, sunshine, cremations and dope - hoping all the time to find spirituality. Both parts have the shadow of Death in Venice looming over them. The writing is superb and both Venice and Varanisa were brought alive for the reader. However I found the device of the two halves a little unsatisfactory – both stories could have been expanded to be novels in their own right. Nonetheless this was an intriguing and enjoyable read.

No comments: