Certainly one of the most inspired titles for a book I've ever known: seldom fails to raise a chuckle, obviously with reference to Mann's masterpiece. So Dyer is irreverent with this book, but is he good? Well, some parts were most enjoyable and well-written, yet others seem cobbled in from travel and other bits of writing. Some parts are impressively written and humous, yet others strike me as showing a decided loss of interest in the romance that allured readers at the ouset, along with paragraphs from his own travelogues (for which the protagonist was presumably hired,) etc. Then the narrator invokes a levity that fits the protagonist more than the straight narrating eye, and things begin to dissolve in this way. There's not much plot or focus to fix on, after all, while what should be incidental--the love interest and the art exhibits--turns out to be pretty much all there was, in the end. In fact, as I approached the end of Jeff in Venice (which would have sufficed as a stellar title), I had to wonder: what would propel me to read on, into Death in Varanasi? Not much, as it turns out...
I don't know how I felt about this book. There were parts I loved and parts I felt very "meh" about. Watch out for the sex scenes if you're someone who blushes easily.
"Yes, it's technically a novel, but you also have to take into account the fact that Geoff Dyer is, well, Geoff Dyer, and the usual rules about any genre simply do not apply to him. There is magic in this tale and I was utterly spellbound."
Top Ten Books of 2010: Robert Gray
Really well written with a very engaging protagonist. One of the best works of fiction I have read this year. The story draws us so completely into the point of view of Jeff and we are having so much fun, that it quite chilling when we step back at the end and realize what he has done to himself- the self-destruction inherent in his journey.
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