Could it be that our deepest desire is for it all to be over? A book about the end of days from the award-winning author of Out of Sheer Rage and Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It
A BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK
In this endlessly stimulating investigation into ‘things coming to an end, artists’ last works, time running out’, Geoff Dyer sets his own encounter with late middle age against the last days and last achievements of writers, painters, athletes and musicians who’ve mattered to him throughout his life. He examines Friedrich Nietzsche’s breakdown in Turin, Bob Dylan’s reinventions of old songs, Beethoven’s final quartets, Jean Rhys’s return from the dead (while still alive) and much more.
“The Last Days of Roger Federer feels like what Martin Amis called “a transfusion from above”, but one from your smartest and funniest friend … entertaining … wide-ranging, eye-opening … His desire to keep going is probably hastening the end, but as long as he keeps his eye sharp and his sense of humour (which is “about so much more than being funny; it’s an entire relation to — and view of — the world”), we’ll be laughing, and thinking, all the way”
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“Finely crafted … The capaciousness of Dyer’s themes allow him to roam widely. While he is a connoisseur of the humdrum details of failure – often skilfully crafted for humour with himself as the target – he also has a joyous appreciation of the transcendent and the triumphant … Age has come upon him, but youth has not gone. It is knee supports on both legs that now keep him on the tennis court, but like Federer, it is a reserve of flair, touch, timing and a keen eye that keeps him in the game”
“Tennis, jazz, Dylan, movies, TV, drugs, Nietzsche, Beethoven. So, why am I laughing? Because Geoff Dyer once again melds commentary and observation with intellect and wit. Bouncing between criticism and memoir, Dyer is one of the few writers whose paragraphs I can immediately reread and get more from. The twists, turns, and delights abound, and when you finally put the book down you think, “Oh, yes, I’ve always been this smart, haven’t I?””
“Dyer writes amusingly and sometimes poignantly about the feeling of time running out, books he can’t finish (other people’s, and his own), the vicissitudes of artistic fame and the perversity of being invigorated by thoughts of quitting. Few contemporary prose writers are as abundantly quotable as Dyer”
“What a capacious sensibility this cultural magpie has, chatting to the reader in warmly companionable fashion, his prose peppered with self-deprecatory humour and footnoted asides, his erudition never pompous or platitudinous … these may be last days for Dyer as they are for Federer, but there’s always somewhere else to go, even if it’s only inwards”
Geoff Dyer is an award-winning author of four novels and numerous non-fiction books, including Out of Sheer Rage, Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It, Zona and, most recently, See/Saw. A fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Science, Dyer lives in Los Angeles, where he is Writer in Residence at the University of Southern California. His books have been translated into twenty-four languages.