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on 11 September 2010
Geoff Dyer has the extraordinary ability to write about real people, doing what people actually do, and saying the kind of things people actually say in real life, all in a prose which is almost frightening in its beauty and intensity. He also manages to write about happiness convincingly, a happiness which is all the sharper and more keenly felt because we know, early on, that things will turn out unhappily for one of the male characters. The book has acknowledged echoes of Fitzgerald and Hemingway, but the picture of Paris it paints is far more realistic than either (I live there) and shows the city, and its inhabitants, pretty much as they are in real life. Either Dyer has an adviser on colloquial Parisian speech, or he's totally fluent - the French really do speak like that. A beautiful, sad, happy novel that everyone should read but very few could write.
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on 31 December 2015
Hedonisitic reading, very holiday literature esqu
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on 9 August 2000
'Paris Trance' traces the lives of two newly formed couples in Paris, thrown together by a volatile, and at times uncertain, bond of friendship, love, lust, sex, and drugs, and their adventures and relationships both inside and around Paris. 'Paris Trance' is skilfully executed throughout, capturing everything from the frustration (both emotional and sexual) of a single man in the heat of a Parisian summer, to the attempts of Dyer's narrator to make sense of the flourishing and later degenerating relationships and personalities around him.
Dyer crafts 'Paris Trance' at his own idiosyncratic (and now his trademark) intersection of genres, not least in his fascination with the ability of prose to convey the visual, as with film and photography, while always remaining sensitive to the emotional climate of the world that he creates. Dyer is also clearly the inheritor of the spirit, if not the style, of earlier twentieth century works of fiction such as Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness', and F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby' and 'Tender is the Night', with his concern for the degeneration of social relationships and the perils of admiration which approaches hero worship. It is the skill with which Dyer executes his exploration into the nature of highly restricted social circles, bordering on philosophy and social psychology, which makes 'Paris Trance' a magnificent, and thoroughly engaging, work of late Twentieth Century fiction.
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on 5 November 2001
This is a story about two couples in their twenties in Paris enjoying life and having fun. One of the characters, Luke, turns away from life and love for no clear reason and the thrust of the narrative is another character's attempts to understand why he's done this. Since we know it's all going to end in tears, the happy times become all the more poignant. It's very well written and definitely far classier and more thoughtful than your average "we went out clubbing and took loads of drugs" yoof novel.
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on 22 June 1999
When you first start to read this book you feel you are being taken into a world which is totally directed towards the ultimate pinanacle of happiness. Luke's unpredictability against the calmer nature of Alex create an underlying tension of just how dominant the destructive side of our personality can be. Their relationships with Nicole and Sara create a dimension of erotic fulfillment whilst exploring basic emotional desires. The poetic way in which this book is written is totally absorbing to the extent that you feel exhausted when you finally put the book down. This book will not be to everybody's taste, but if you have ever considered what uncomplicated and definitive happiness might be like, Paris Trance goes a long way to providing an answer.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 10 October 2010
A story of two love affairs in a benevolent la France, and yes - sex, drugs and rock and roll. Given that it's delivered by the sublime Geoff Dyer, what more could one ask? Alex and Luke meet up and are immediately friends, both young, footloose and over in Paris for the ambience. They find work at a warehouse where the regime ranges from demanding to very lax indeed. They manage to find time for football and sometimes that's all there is to do. (Impossible not to recognise the seriousness that young men bring to the business of kicking a ball about.) Luke meets Nicole first, then Alex meets Sahra. They become a foursome, but always staying in their pairs; they spend roughly a year, perhaps a little more, living in Paris, and still the ambience does not disappoint.

The relationships as described are imbued with the light of discernment, but they are all in love and this colours their existence as only love can. Dyer manages their stories with empathy and passion and some of the writing trembles at the edge of elegiac. When a break-down comes it is Luke for whom the idyll falls apart. It had to be Luke, of course - the driven, nervy, druggy member of their small cabal. The book - ostensibly narrated for at least some of the time by Alex - refuses to end with the picture of Luke in his charmless high-rise flat back in London, TV on, subjecting himself to channel-hopping hell and goes back to the foursome's sojourn in the French countryside, putting the finishing touches to their erstwhile boss's luxury villa - days of table-tennis, acid on a postcard sent by a friend, tramping through the forest and being ecstatically in love with themselves and with life. Life should always be like this and for the space of this book, it can be.
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on 22 December 2003
picked this book in the local library after i forgot my halfway read copy of "yoga for people..." on the train, out of sheer desperation for this guy's style. never thought i'd find the same power in his writing in this older book, turned out to be even better, the realism presented in crude yet romantic and soft prose is just too much to miss, his style in favor of the story which is quite gripping itself as it turns out. definetely worth every penny.
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on 25 June 2000
An elegant and mesmerising novel - really, adjectives don't do it justice! Geoff Dyer evokes a happiness so intense it can't last - and knowing that it doesn't somehow makes the story all the sweeter. Buy this, devour it, and read The Colour of Memory as well - your world will be a better place.
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on 17 July 2000
Paris Trance is both a novel and an elegy about romance, destiny, intimacy, and the rise and fall of an intense, short-lived friendship between two couples living an expatriate existence in 1990's Paris. The main character, Luke Barnes, arrives in Paris animated by a half-formed desire to write a novel, or perhaps make a film and live in a world of possibilities where one can move towards the center of one's own life; rapture, intimacy, consuming and discarding each moment. Luke forms a strong, brotherly bond with Alex, another Brit expat for whom Luke becomes one part of a vicariously lived whole. The two men hook up with girlfriends, and far too much time is spent on the humdrum details of each relationship/romance, which seems to slow the novel down considerably. But this problem is more than made up for by the strong focus on the bonds of friendship and intimacy between the two couples, deepend by the shared experience of tripping on ecstasy while being blasted by loud, house music until six o'clock in the morning; "They were still full of chemically engendered expectation but that anticipation was gradually coming to refer to the past, to something that had already taken place. They were wide wake, distracted, glowing." But Luke's quest to reach the peak of happiness, to "move to the center of one's own life" is seen by Sahra, Alex' girlfriend and Luke's friend, as a destructive flaw; "He doesn't really have emotions. Just appetites. At the moment he's as happy as a sandboy because there's so much still to gobble down. But what's he going to be like when he's tried it all ? " The emotional void/greed of Luke is further explored by his desire to hang on to, for a moment longer, a "tantalizing echo" of an experience lived just seconds ago; "And at that moment you glimpse the Eternal Recurrence as a potential fact, as a mechanism, rather than a metaphor. That is the solution contained in the riddle of deja vu. All memories are premonitions, all premonitions are memories". The novel also explores what one might call an expat view of existentialism, of seeing one's destiny not from the perspective of the positive will to achieve, but from that of failing so absolutely that one embraces it as one's true self, true destiny, the triumph of negative possibilities; "By letting things occur as they did he believed he was penetrating more deeply into himself, getting closer to the core. "All of the things he associated with happiness came to be lodged absolutely in his past. "his falling short was a kind of triumph; he was being faithful to some part of himself, to his destiny". One can't help but be reminded of the main character in Albert Camus' The Stranger, and of the "Black winds" of one's negative destiny. Luke never writes his novel, never makes his film, breaks up with Nicole, a woman he loves deeply, and separates himself from everything that makes him happy in an effort to confront his true self, his blighted destiny; "there are all sorts of propensities in people-but there are other kinds of negative potential: the potential for wasting the talents we are given, for blighting our prospects of happiness". Geoff Dyer is as close as Gen-X will get to reading their own version of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Paris Trance is an excellent, if extreme, example. This novel is not spectacularly well written, but it does (or should) strike a powerful chord with nearly anyone in late twenties or early thirties who have ever lived to eat up whatever happiness they could grab, and wondered if there was anything worthwhile beyond rapture.
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on 7 July 1999
Excellent book. So hard to find a good book about friendship, love and loss. This is one of them.
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