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Few writers seem to do facetious erudition with the obtrusively self-aggrandizing more completely than Geoff Dyer. This should make for an infuriating read, but instead it allows for an agreeable if trivial one. The problem is more one of the digressive leading to the arbitrary. At one moment in Zona Dyer talks of the room which is at the centre of the Zone, the place in which the three characters, the stalker, the writer and the professor are trying to reach, and where various wishes may come true.
However, in a book on Stalker written thirty years later it seems an irrelevant remark. French poster for Stalker Andrei Tarkovsky, If Berger is a writer who so often offers provocative proximity, Dyer frequently practises instead superfluous associationism: making connections between things that add little to the understanding of the thing itself, but instead allude to the assumptions Dyer is making of his reader.
Does one not arrive at the trivialising? Dyer reverses this by asking us to trust the teller, as in Dyer, but mock the tale, or rather not so much mock it as half ignore it, with Dyer focusing on his own biography to the detriment of the film. But Dyer would rightly claim where a Grisham novel is decidedly generic, Zona is a book which has no recognizable place, and nevertheless is readable without all the generic codification of a pre-packaged best-seller.
Of course you are. In such instances writing resembles less an art or a craft than the oldest of professions. Very few people will be coming to a book on Stalker for details on the London house market, yet it is partly what keeps the book easygoing and relaxed. Dyer can write and he can entertain, but he seems to be confusing here the irrelevant with the irreverent.
All the more so when there is space for Clarkson, Brand and the Brixton property market. Yet the worst way is to speak of it frivolously, and just as one often feels Dyer confuses the irrelevant with the irreverent, so also lightness with frivolity.
Perhaps even because of it. Yet at the same time it is the sort of book we need more of, books written by writers who do not feel obliged to devote many hours of their life to searching out every last word written on a film, but instead can feel free to roam over the text, picking out from it moments that illuminate their own thinking.
There are many films Dyer could write intelligently about, but just not, it seems, Stalker. Home Book Reviews. Stalker Andrei Tarkovsky,
Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room
Literally speaking it is. Dyer retraces the cinematography faithfully and beautifully. So beautifully, in fact, that I found it difficult not to start falling again for Tarkovsky. But Zona is also about an author on the verge of a nervous breakdown. In fact Dyer never explodes. During the act of carefully reassembling the steps of the three main protagonists of the film the nameless Writer and Scientist and eponymous Stalker as they walk and talk and at other times sit silently and head into the Zone, a place where it is said your innermost wish three-way sex for Dyer, eating more fat for his father will be granted, Dyer keeps remarkably sane. And he seems to do so by digressing wildly.
Zona by Geoff Dyer: review
Now a writer and TV host, he compiled a list of the most important things he'd learned from a seminar Hoberman had taught as a side gig at New York University. It contained a good deal of sound advice — "Watch for excess words. If there's a shorter word, use it"; "Vent your spleen. In criticism, it's better to be angry than depressed" — but the most basic and important message was this: "Plot synopses automatically ruin a review.