Friday, December 29, 2017

White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World, by Geoff Dyer

White Sands is a collection of essays that try hard to come together as a coherent book. Some are short travel anecdotes, examining places that are either too touristic to be anything or too artistic to be objective and needing a critical analysis from a cultured person like Geoff Dyer. I liked these the most, since they were both teaching something about places I probably will never visit and also showing the sarcastic internal thoughts of the author, complete with interesting references and in depth research. Well written, too.

Two chapters try to explore not just short visits to distant places, but places Dyer lived in, like Los Angeles. These are so packed with references and quotes and longer than the others and I almost didn't finish the book, short as it is. One chapter is about a mild brain stroke he had, almost robbing him of the thing he identifies with most: his brain. It is weirdly distant, like it happens to another person, as probably during those times he was either in complete shock or some kind of denial. I couldn't believe that neither he nor his wife recognized the medical signs of a stroke and chose to go for a coffee and a croissant before going to the hospital. Then again, he was probably listening to jazz while reading artsy books when I was watching Dr. House.

Bottom line: I recommended the book to a friend while reading the first chapters. I found it fresh, funny and intellectual in the same time. I wouldn't recommend the book now that I have finished it. As I was saying, it is hardly a book and more a collection of various things Geoff Dyer wrote during his life, different in style, scope and how much they interested me. It is not by any means a bad book, and probably people that enjoy a different sort of art and culture will love it, it just wasn't for me, in the end. Since the chapters are unrelated, one can take whatever part of it they enjoy most and discard the rest, though.

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