Book Review

Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered by Geoff Dyer

Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered by Geoff Dyer Anyone who's stayed up late to watch a heavyweight boxing match on the back of a week's hype in the press will know how I felt after reading Geoff Dyer's latest book. OK, pretty good, but is this guy really the next Muhammad Ali?

Look at this puff by author William Sutcliffe: "So what is this book? Part string of stoner anecdotes, part memoir, part travelogue, part philosophical treatise, part comic tour de force, it is utterly unclassifiable. If Hunter S. Thompson, Roland Barthes, Paul Theroux and Sylvia Plath all went on holiday together in the same body they could come up with something like it. This is the funniest book I have read for a long time ... My book of the year."

So something quite unlike anything we've ever read before, then: an eccentric romp that simultaneously transcends, has fun with, and pokes fun at, existing genres? A new Kurt Vonnegut, perhaps?

Like at least one of Vonnegut's books, Dyer makes use of the postmodernist conceit that this is a book about a book that the writer hasn't quite got round to writing. Or rather two books: one a philosophical musing on the ruins of antiquity; the other a self-help book called Yoga For People who Can't be Bothered to Do It (but he couldn't be bothered to write it).

Dyer is not Kurt Vonnegut, nor is he thankfully anything like the nightmarish hybrid dreamt up by Sutcliffe. But he is Geoff Dyer, and that's not such a bad thing: he is sometimes touching, often funny, and rarely boring -- if sometimes pretentious.

While not writing his books, Dyer takes us instead on a trip around the world, stopping off in New Orleans, Amsterdam, Thailand, Paris, and Libya, describing his passing friendships and love affairs, dropping mushrooms and smoking skunk weed, and generally developing a rather appealing zen-like attitude to life as he goes. And just like when you're in what Dyer calls "the Zone" -- that space where you don't wish you were anywhere else or doing anything else -- the time will pass quickly in Dyer's company. Even the worst of his philosophising is bearable if you can imagine listening to it while stoned.

In short, don't expect too much, but worth a go ... if you can be bothered.
-- Reviewed by Stuart Watkins on 12/08/2004

Further Information
ISBN-10: 0349116237
ISBN-13: 9780349116235
Publisher: Abacus
Publication Date: 18/03/2004
Binding: Paperback
Number of pages: 256

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