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Zona: A Book about a Film about a Journey to a Room

Zona: A Book about a Film about a Journey to a Room [Kindle Edition]

Geoff Dyer
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Product Description


One of my favourite of all contemporary writers. --Alain de Botton

A true original . . . [Dyer] never ceases to surprise, disturb and delight. --William Boyd

A national treasure. --Zadie Smith

A restless polymath and an irresistibly funny storyteller, he is adept at fiction, essay and reportage, but happiest when twisting all three into something entirely his own. --New Yorker

Few books about film feel like watching a film, but this one does. We sit with Dyer as he writes about Stalker, he captures its mystery and burnish, he prises it open and gets its glum majesty. As a result of this book, i know the film better, and care about Tarkovsky even more. --Mark Cousins, author of THE STORY OF FILM

I loved this book. How can it possibly work - a book describing a film, more or less shot by shot? But it triumphantly does - i actually felt suspense, and revelation. And i'd never laugh at Stalker, but i did laugh all the way through this. --Tessa Hadley, author of LONDON TRAIN

There is no contemporary writer i admire more than Dyer. --David Shields, author of REALITY HUNGER

Zona is the rare book that respects the mystery of a film without feeling obliged to dismantle it --Tim Robey, The Evening Standard

Throughout, the writing is of an aphoristic grace and concision, suffused with humour and a delight to read --Ian Thomson, The Independent

It's Dyer's ability at moments like this to make pilgrims of his readers and to lead them on a journey in search of truths about love and about the nature of happiness that make Zona such an exhilarating achievement --Sukdev Sandu, The Guardian

[Geoff Dyer] shows how writing about film can deliver a sense of adventure. His book offers the satisfaction of a meditation that inhales a much larger world --Nick James, Sight & Sound

Product Description

In this spellbinding new book, the man described by the Daily Telegraph as 'possibly the best living writer in Britain' takes on his biggest challenge yet: unlocking the film that has obsessed him all his adult life. Like the film Stalker itself, it confronts the most mysterious and enduring questions of life and how to live.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 424 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books (2 Feb 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #220,488 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Geoff Dyer is the author of four novels and six other nonfiction books, including But Beautiful, which was awarded the Somerset Maugham Prize, and Out of Sheer Rage, which was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. The winner of a Lannan Literary Award, the International Centre of Photography's 2006 Infinity Award for writing on photography, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters' E. M. Forster Award, Dyer is a regular contributor to many publications in the UK and the US. He lives in London. For more information visit Geoff Dyer's official website:

Photographer: Jason Oddy

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zona 11 Feb 2012
Zona - Geoff Dyer
Canongate £16.99
Reviewed by Leyla Sanai

A gambler trying to guess the topic of a future Geoff Dyer book would always be destined to lose. Not only is Dyer versatile in form (novels, novellas, essays, non-fiction books), but his range of chosen topics has been so eclectic to date that predicting the next would be impossible.

As far as non-fiction is concerned, Dyer's panoramic sweep has included the sacred - *history, literature, photography, jazz - as well as the profane - sex, drugs, Burning Man. Speaking at the Edinburgh Book Festival he said in 2010 that the conventional notion that one had to be an expert in a subject before writing about it was one he rebelled against, and that with some of his chosen subjects, he embarked on writing the book with an interest in his topic but limited detailed knowledge, allowing the research process to educate him while he wrote the book.

Dyer was certainly very knowledgeable about the iconic Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky's 1979 art-house movie Stalker before he started writing this book, having seen it repeatedly over the more than thirty years since its release. The first time he saw it he didn't enjoy it that much, but its slow, haunting scenes lodged in his mind, and he was compelled to see it again and again.

Stalker is a typical Tarkovsky film, slow, mysterious, allegorical. The central story involves a guide, the Stalker, taking a Writer and a Professor to a forbidden zone where, it is rumoured, one's deepest desires come true.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Zona: a book about Geoff Dyer 19 Oct 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If this book makes you go and watch Tarkovsky's film Stalker, and Dyer would certainly want you to watch it in a cinema and not on DVD, then Dyer's book is half-justified.

This book is a candid but self-regarding offloading posing as a commentary on a film. It will please Dyer's fans but is probably more important because of the way it raises questions about the end of the culture that spawned the film and Dyer's appreciation of it. We (I am 45) did not appreciate the freedoms we had until we lost them.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Geoff Dyer's books are, by now, divided fairly easily into two categories. There are the novels, and then there are the Other Ones, the books that are the main reason why people admire him. His novels are mixed; The Colour of Memory is a touching and skilful debut, but there are things about it that make you think that he really ought to be doing something else. The Search is basically an attempt at being Italo Calvino. Paris Trance updates The Colour of Memory with a hint of mid-30s crisis. Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi is the only Dyer book I've not been engaged enough by to finish. It read like travel notes that had been at best hastily converted into something resembling a novel.

But the other books: ah, the other books. Dyer's first book, long out of print and which he unfairly dismisses as 'short and dull', was a critical study of the work of John Berger, and Dyer is one of the few English writers who've picked up Berger's technique of writing personal and idiosyncratic non-fiction books, or book-length essays, that have something of the same poetic resonance as the films of Chris Marker. (Berger, Marker, Dyer - OK, 'Marker' isn't Marker's real name, but there's something action-y about all their surnames.) Even Dyer's Berger book had a touch of the personal about it; he notes that Berger, on 'Ways of Seeing', had the kind of haircut that mostly footballers had at that point in the early 70s. But then he started to write books like But Beautiful, a tender and quasi-fictional meditation on jazz. Then there was The Missing of the Somme, a book nominally about World War One but really about the gap Dyer perceived between the experience of WW1 and that of his own generation, and how he and his friends fantasised about it but were also genuinely moved by the sacrifice involved.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Dyer jackpot 5 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Somewhere, there must be a subject that Geoff Dyer can't write an interesting book about, in which case I would really like to know what it is. In the meantime, we must be grateful for books like Zona, which takes an unpromising subject (one of Tarkovsky's most difficult films, which is saying something) and delivers a sublime meditation on, well, pretty much everything.
If you have seen the film, you'll find your appreciation of it enormously enhanced, and you'll certainly want to go back and watch it again (I did). But even if you haven't, there's so much entertaining and enlightening extra material, not just about the background and influence of the film, but about Dyer's own life and opinions, that I guarantee you'll want to read the book again. As well as seeing the film, of course.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's about the experience of cinema 18 Feb 2013
I went to see Stalker when it opened in London, at the Academy Cinema in Oxford Street. At the end of the movie, the audience stood in respectful silence and began that polite shuffle towards the exit, until one elderly gentleman turned to his companion and said, 'Well, I didn't understand any of that.'

This book is about Dyer's understanding of Stalker, the film by Tarkovsky that he has watched again and again. Dyer writes a response to each scene, every action in the film, finding seeds of the future in the Chernobyl-like zone, identifying motifs and ideas that became part of the language of cinema, and responding on a personal level to the debates within the dialogue about the zone and what it represents.

So this is not an explanation of the film - nor does it claim to be - but a musing on the muse of Tarkovsky, a director who is revealed to be of his place and his time, but whose creation echoes backwards and forwards, resonating with anyone with a love of cinema.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Never read another book like it
What a great book not only does it give new insights into 'stalker' but it is very funny as well. to anyone who loves the film this would make a great present.
Published 9 months ago by Michael Mackowski
5.0 out of 5 stars Shadow of Tarkovsky
A hypnotic read... I've immediately taken to re-watching the film again. Insightful, funny and moving, I highly recommend to anyone with an interest in 'Stalker' or Tarkovsky.
Published 9 months ago by Paul
5.0 out of 5 stars clever and unique
240 pages about Tarkovsky's film "Stalker". Simultaneously, it's memoirs, essays about everything, film history analysis, travelogue, but at the same time, not a collection of all... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Ray Garraty
4.0 out of 5 stars Review about a book about a film about...
This book is essentially an extended, digressive and entertainingly insightful review of Tarkovsky's fathomless masterpiece. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Snuffyarroder
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining book.
Geoff Dyer's book is essentially a rather light-hearted and approachable scene by scene description of and commentary on Andrei Tarkovsky's 1979 film, 'Stalker. Read more
Published 24 months ago by Xenophon
1.0 out of 5 stars I would not recommend this book
I would not recommend this book to anyone who likes Tarkovsky's films, or to anyone interested in cinema. Read more
Published on 21 Aug 2012 by Lindsay
1.0 out of 5 stars skip it
Zona opens with an atrociously written sentence ("An empty bar, possibly not even open, with a single table, no bigger than a small round table, but higher, the sort you lean... Read more
Published on 21 July 2012 by Daniel Silverman
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
I felt a bit cheated after reading this book. I found it was really more about Geoff Dyer - of whom I'd known nothing previously and about whom the book told me indeed more than I... Read more
Published on 1 May 2012 by PPC
4.0 out of 5 stars 'masters give you freedom'
Humour is not a quality that you associate with Tarkovsky's films, but this book is very funny. Like Berio, in the third movement of his Sinfonia, taking a ride on the third... Read more
Published on 25 April 2012 by Jonathan Robertson
In his film Stalker, the director wanted to provide for you, the cinema audience the Russian says he does not give a damn for, a desolate landscape. Read more
Published on 6 April 2012 by THUMBTOM
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‘If the regular length of a shot is increased, one becomes bored, but if you keep on making it longer, it piques your interest, and if you make it even longer, a new quality emerges, a special intensity of attention.’ &quote;
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‘From the standpoint of pure Art one might establish the axiom that there is no such thing as subject—style in itself being an absolute manner of seeing things.’ &quote;
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We are, as Roberto Calasso says of Kafka’s The Trial and The Castle, ‘on the threshold of a hidden world that one suspects is implicit in this world’ &quote;
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