http://msarki.tumblr.com/post/54062507677/geoff-dyer-and-zonaZona, A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room
is another in an increasing number of fine nonfiction works written by Geoff Dyer. This book, his latest, is definitely a continuance of his maturity as both a writer and a person aging gracefully. Two brilliant earlier works that bear remarking are The Ongoing Moment
(a book about photography written by a man who doesn''t even own a camera) and Out of Sheer Rage
(a potentially serious biographical study of D.H. Lawrence that turned out to be almost everything but. But still I learned enough about Lawrence to want to read all his collected letters and a couple biographies written about him. I have yet to read any of his fiction except for a couple key adulterous segments involving Lady Chatterly and the resident hired gamekeeper back when I was a virgin kid with pimples.) I bought this book Zona
shortly after it was released in 2012, not too long after I had been initially introduced to Geoff Dyer and had already swiftly run through quite a few of his nonfiction works. His collected essays were very good as were the two earlier titles I mentioned at the top of the page. But the book about yoga was for the most part a silly bore that focused too much on his smoking pot and getting laid, or attempting to have sex with anybody except who he was supposed to be having it with. The book on yoga was a travelogue of sorts that failed on many levels and for me significantly lowered the standing of Dyer with me to some degree. I wish he hadn't written it. But with Zona
he has again positioned himself as one of my favorite contemporary authors and along with the prior books already mentioned cannot be denied his place in the literary canon.
The film Dyer is summarizing for us, kind of, by way of his many digressions that bring to mind another favorite writer, now dead, by the name of W.G. Sebald (who would never stoop so low as to reveal his seedier side but still offers glimpses of his living darkness), the Dyer film study an historically revered work by the famous director Andrei Tarkovsky titled Stalker
. So far, the only film by Tarkovsky that I have seen was Mirror
made five years prior to this one in 1974. Mirror
was a beautiful black and white film that I remember liking very much but at the time not enough to want to watch more of the director's work. (I do have his last film Sacrifice
in my Netflix queue, but Dyer does not speak so highly of Tarkovsky's later films as they seemed to him to be retreads, or films patterned too much after the famous Tarkovsky.) I have been given more to the work of the Hungarian director Bela Tarr due to the influence of my teacher whom I have spoken probably too often about but feel the need to always give credit where it belongs. There are many other films listed and spoken about in Dyer's book Zona
which I have also seen and found I could appreciate his personal take on them and the digressions they caused within this new literary creation of his. It is doubtful that Dyer is a brilliant film critic, but he can pass himself off as one if he so wishes. He is believable in what he has to say about all film, actors and directors, and the photographers who must produce these moving visions directed to them.
I was a bit concerned going into the reading of this book that one, it might be boring and two, that Dyer would ruin the film for me if I ever wanted to eventually see it. Neither was the case. Immediately from the get go the book was an engaging read. The synopsis, or summery, (Dyer resisted either) begins with reel one and follows the film to the end. At least it is written in that manner, but as I haven't seen the film I cannot confirm that Dyer was precise in his truthful accounting of the frames. But I like his style. The main thing for me, besides Dyer being a highly gifted writer, is that though he enjoys his certain measures of success and does enjoy a brief public encounter or two from adoring fans, he isn't really much concerned what you ultimately think of him or even how shocking his personal digressions may seem to some of us of a more prudish nature. I cannot recall a book I have read by Dyer that did not have the ubiquitous too-personal sex scene or sexual fantasy laced with illegal drugs, and almost always, especially his beloved hallucinogens. But make no mistake, this a serious work of art and Dyer's penchant for his personal delusions or deviant behavior seems to be kept at bay until a point far later in his narration that was destined to have some darker Dyer included in its telling. But again, that is what makes these Dyer books so interesting to me. There is so much of Geoff Dyer in it that the reader better find the author palatable or at least commanding enough in his writing to make you suffer through his personal lurid ordeals. If the personal were not included I would not be the fan of his I think I am these days. I love this guy, but I know he is not interested in building any permanent or longer-lasting relationship with me other than the getting of royalties from the sales of his books. But he isn't even much concerned with how commercial his work even is. Dyer generally writes only for himself and about topics he is interested in and if he cannot find the available book on the subject he is most interested in at the time he writes it. I would class him as the audacious type which is a compliment from me as he seems to be able to pull off anything he wishes to. And Zona
just so happened to be his favorite film of all-time and one that very few people have seen in the scope of the ogling masses who view the trash so prevalent on our many big screens placed in malls and parking lots all over the world. He knew his audience for this book about a film would be limited, but still he wrote it because that is what Geoff Dyer does.
I know I haven't offered much help here in the way of a significant and enriching book review. I apologize for this obvious shortcoming. But the jacket blurbs and the publisher's hype should offer enough of a synopsis of the book to spike your interest in reading it. Plus there are some very good reviews already written about this book. All I hope to be saying here is that Geoff Dyer will not let you down with this one, this Zona
, and he also won't ruin Stalker
for you if you haven't seen the film yet. In the process, however, he will entertain you, take you through a life or two, ask some very good questions, offer a few good answers of his own and others, and show you the ropes around the room they all must call The Zone.