29 March 2011

Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi

Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi19. Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi by Geoff Dyer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Geoff Dyer is one of my favorite authors, but his work is difficult to characterize. I've read nearly all of his books (own several) except the one that's a study of John Berger's essays and a new one I only recently discovered. There are the quasi travel memoirs, a more critical look at photography, a musing on jazz, as well as some fiction.

Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi is a novel in two parts, just like the title. Having read many stories of the author's own adventures abroad, I recognized his voice in the character Jeff. Enough to make me think the Biennale in Venice and life in Varanasi have much in common with his descriptions of them.

I preferred the Jeff in Venice section of the book which transpires mainly in Venice, Italy during a biennial art festival aptly called the Biennale. His descriptions of the art parties made me feel like I was there while reminding me it's not my scene.

The Death in Varanasi section switches to a first person narrative that may or may not be Jeff from the first section of the book. It gave me a feel for the city Varanasi in India along the Ganges although no desire to visit.

The book is sort of the perfect vicarious experience of both cities.

A year ago on TTaT: Beyond: A Solar System Voyage

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