Photo by O’mages used under a Creative Commons license.
Geoff Dyer, Paris Trance (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1998).
A tale of two couples, expats in Paris. Luke moves there from England to write a novel, a plan never acted upon, and finds work at a warehouse, where he meets another Englishman, Alex. Luke soon starts seeing Nicole, a student from Belgrade, and Alex woos Sahra, an American translator. Over the next year, the four live in the moment, a glorious but doomed interregnum between their lives before and what comes after, timeless in the moment and brief in retrospect. It would be difficult to cover this ground without acknowledging Hemingway and Fitzgerald, as Dyer does from the outset, but this is not derivative.
This page offers a bio of Dyer and some perspective on his work. The Complete Review’s page has links to reviews and other good stuff and the CR’s own review, which calls it deceptively simple and straightforward. Daniel Mendelsohn (The New York Times) says it offers compelling and beautiful moments but doesn’t ultimately work, but that even this relative failure is entrancing. Walter Kirn (New York) says imitating Fitzgerald is a loser’s game. Greg Bottoms (Salon) says if Milan Kundera rendered a “Friends” episode, it might look something like this. James Sallis (Washington Post) says it leaves an ache that can’t be located or named. Likewise, Tom Nolan (San Francisco Chronicle) calls it haunting. Gerald Houghton says it’s one of those French movies about flighty young things who drink, fight and fuck too much. Ruby Khan says the tragic love is what’s most compelling. Richard Wallace (Seattle Times) says the whole effort feels like a hardworking writer’s summer vacation. Paul calls it unfinished and pedestrian. James Lomex calls it a mediation on relationships and happiness. The formatting makes it tough to read, but here is a 1999 interview with Dyer in LA Weekly about the book. Olivia Giovetti interviewed Dyer last year. Eight years ago, the Complete Review looked for Dyer on the internet.