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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Paid for writing my life": An Anglo-English Attitude, 10 Mar. 2001
By A Customer
The one-line summary of this review of Geoff Dyer's Anglo-English Attitudes goes far, but not far enough in attempting (admittedly only half-heartedly) to identify the writer's body of work as well as the kind of writer he has aspired to be over the span of fifteen years and counting.
Anglo-English Attitudes is more hits than misses, covering Dyer's essays and reviews on authors and subjects ranging from Graham Greene to Jay McInerney to flying in a Russian MIG-29 supersonic jetfighter to backing out of skydiving from 10,000 feet after suiting up and watching everyone else jump. It's difficult to articulate how this book gets under your skin in any cumulative way, it just does for so many reasons. Dyer writes movingly while not overwhelming the reader with grief in describing the suicide and funeral of his uncle, Eric in Violets of Pride. In Blues for Vincent, Dyer uses his own personal experiences of loss and longing to connect himself and the reader to American Blues music as shelter, a way to endure despair and loneliness. In Albert Camus, the writer arrives in Algeria only to realize he is too late in trying to come to grips with the Francophone Algeria that nutured Camus as a person and as a writer. But he nonetheless makes the journey to post-colonial Algiers to "claim kin with him, to be guided by him." While watching some boys play soccer on a deserted sidestreet in Algiers Dyer is confronted by the intense poverty and sunlight that was so much a part of Camus' life growing up as a young Pied Noir and is "seized by two contradictory feelings: there is so much beauty in the world it is incredible that we are ever miserable for a moment; there is so much shit in the world that it is incredible that we are ever happy for a moment."
As a writer, Dyer has a way of forcing the reader to think deeply about the symbolic importance of certain places and it's attendant historical memory. In The Guidebook, we visit Valle de los Caidos, the massive tomb and meglomaniacal testament to the pharoanic ruthlessness of the dictator Francisco Franco in Escorial, Spain: "It was built by Republican prisoners from the civil war. Many of them died in the massive labor." In Oradour-Sur-Glane, the writer decides after attending the wedding of close friends to take a train to the forlorn remnants of a French village savagely razed by the Nazis in 1944, the scene of an unfathomable massacre that left the village a virtual graveyard. Dyer sees the the village, preserved in its' total destruction as a reminder for future generations, an attempt to call into being both a resolution and restoration of hope and forgiveness; "only then can they be forgotten."
Readers probably shouldn't waste much time seeking some benchmark or unifying strand in this eclectic, pleasingly disparate group of writings. It seems the writer best defines himself and his free-lance work contained herein: "Would it be immodest to claim that this book gives a glimpse of a not unrepresentative way of being a late-twentieth-century man of letters ?"
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a fine collection of essays, 21 May 2010
Mr. Robert Marsland (Glasgow) - See all my reviews
I enjoyed reading this book - Dyer writes essays about what interests him whether art, photography, philosophy, jazz or even action man. He is as one quote on the cover suggests perhaps the best writer in Britain today. The essays are by turns funny , moving and often very insightful. If you enjoy the essay form or even just enjoy good writing I urge you to read this book.
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Anglo-English Attitudes
Anglo-English Attitudes by Geoff Dyer (Paperback - 7 Mar. 2013)
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