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Notebook on Cities and Culture S4E41: Born Worn Down with Geoff Dyer

Geoff Dyer, Notting Hill. Feb 2011Colin Marshall sits down in Venice with Geoff Dyer, author of books all across the spectrum between fiction and non-fiction on such subjects as jazz, photography, travel, World War I, and Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Stalker. His newest book Another Great Day at Sea follows his two weeks aboard the aircraft carrier the U.S.S. George H.W. Bush, and his first two novels The Color of Memory and The Search have just received their very first American editions. They discuss why America needs to land planes on boats; the call he received from Alain de Botton asking what institution he’d like to visit as a writer in residence; place as the nexus of interests on which his diverse body of work converges; his specific desire to write and reside on an American military ship, a place not full of Englishmen already “born worn down”; The Color of Memory‘s late-1980s London, “oily, dark, and full of harm”; the idyllic Brixton life he once led amid the city’s near-total brokenness; how many “Geoff in Venice” jokes he’s heard since moving from London to Los Angeles; the contrast between his Venice life and his last extended American experience, which offered “blissful months in Iowa city”; the comparability of Venice and Brixton’s ramshackle countercultural years; when, exactly, the personnel on the aircraft carrier started talking about Jesus; what Effra Road feels like today; his uncanny knack for living in the right place at the wrong time; how he would write The Color of Memory today, and whether he would feel quite so afflicted with a need for “ideological soundness”; the system of discipline he forced upon himself in his twenties, and the system the soldiers on the U.S.S. George H.W. Bush sign up to have forced upon them; when Another Great Day at sea “became a Geoff Dyer Book”; and what comes of the collision between his sensibility and that place, including the ability to ask. at the right moment, if the whole enterprise means anything at all.

Download the interview here as an MP3 or on iTunes.

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