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Paris Trance: A Romance Paperback – 10 May 2012
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"A Tender is the Night for the Ecstasy Age." (Tim Pears)
"A beautifully composed rave generation rhapsody . . . dripping with eroticism." (Sunday Times)
"Sexy, hopelessly romantic and almost sneakily meditative, Dyer's novel invokes the shades of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, but as they might be imagined by Truffaut." (New Yorker)
"A skilfully crafted map of the human heart." (Independent)
'A beautifully composed rave generation rhapsody . . . dripping with eroticism.' Sunday TimesSee all Product description
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Four foreigners meet in Paris and become two couples. The novel follows their blossoming relationships, friendship and adventures all the while riffing off Hemingway and Fitzgerald’s novels and life in Paris.
Plot is a very much a secondary concern for Dyer. He is an author who is more interested in place, character and ideas. Very little of consequence happens in this novel other than that which serves to unpick the personality of his protagonists or to explore his chosen themes.
Like Jeff in Venice; Death in Varanasi, Dyer uses a structure that lays out the skeleton of the work during the first half and then fills in meaning during the back-end. In both cases, it makes the first half of the novel drag somewhat (although less so in Paris Trance). Unfortunately, whilst the second half of Jeff in Venice was blisteringly revelatory, here it seems more pedestrian. The ideas seem less coherently structured and arguments less effectively articulated. More than anything, the languid diffidence that the characters direct at the trappings of adult responsibilities seems to infect not only the plot but also the subtext.
The wordplay that is upfront in the punning title continues throughout the novel. Dyer has a real talent for prose; the city is sketched beautifully, the dialogue is arch but naturalistic and wry phrases are deployed with abandon.
Nevertheless, neither the themes nor the characters resonate sufficiently on an emotional or intellectual level to compensate for the lack of plot. Dyer’s sense of place and wonderful prose means that almost every page has something to enjoy but it doesn’t coalesce into a work greater, or even the equal, of its constituent parts.
It does get better if you can be bothered to persist, but I really had to
struggle through boredom and his sub-standard writing to get to the
second half of the book. At the end I was not satisfied that this was a
value experience in terms of my time or money!