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Geoff Dyer - Zona (4 stars)

The multi-talented humourist turns his able hand to film criticism

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Geoff Dyer - Zona

(Canongate)

Having previously mashed-up fiction, journalism, essay, biography and travel writing, polymath and humourist Geoff Dyer once more defies genre with a book that’s one part film criticism, one part autobiography and several parts random thoughts and observations, all held together with some meta-narrative quippery.

Taking as his starting point one of his favourite cinematic experiences, Russian auteur Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 sci-fi film Stalker, Dyer delivers a scene-by-scene commentary that’s inter-cut with much musing, both metaphysical and mundane, that takes in everything from what a difficult bugger Tarkovsky was through to the author’s negative feelings about Jeremy Clarkson.

To his credit, Dyer manages to pull off the trick of being at once high and low-brow without coming across as either a smart aleck or a moron. He also manages to maintain the reader’s interest across 200-odd pages of what’s essentially a lengthy film summary and, most impressive of all, Dyer manages to get across a sense of how and why he loves Stalker while taking a swipe at a film that is, on the face of it, long, boring and pretentious.

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