Geoff Dyer’s “Paris Trance”

Geoff Dyer’s Paris Trance was, frankly, a big disappointment to me. It was written in 1998, eleven years prior to publishing Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi (which I praised to heaven in my previous review), but not only the theme (a grown-up man searching, unsuccessfully, for his self) is prevalent in both, but conversations are similar (some, about nothing) and some particular memorable details (in love scenes) are repetitive in both novels. Needless to say, whereas I was fine with the characters’ mundane chit-chats in the novel set in Venice—thanks to the language and humor, I was bored out of my mind with similar exchange in Paris Trance.

The reason I didn’t toss the book aside was the author’s clues/promises about something that would happen later in the story. But when I finally got to those places, I found out they were just that: promises.

Finally, on p. 192, the author says through the narrator, “I want to tell now, as quickly as possible, a little of what happened later, much later.” Which made me think, Yes, please tell me already—ASAP!—what is going to happen because I can’t wait anymore, really. But then he goes on and on in the same vein. He also says, “Perhaps that is what led me to tell this story that is not a story…”

Not a story? No kidding! Then why tell it?

If I happened to read Paris Trance before I picked up Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, I would probably have not even opened the latter, which would’ve been my big loss, of course.

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