Nothing Happens

Mark O’Connell, “The MacGuffinist,” The Slate Book Review 2 June 2014

The only thing these books really have in common is the fact that nothing much happens in any of them. Which is to say that what happens in these books is, primarily, Geoff Dyer’s writing. One of his more impressive gifts is the ability to create a sense of momentum within essentially static narratives; the way in which nothing happens, in his work, can often have the aura of spectacle. […] The subject of a Geoff Dyer book is only ever the pretext, the flimsiest excuse, for a book by Geoff Dyer. In books like Out of Sheer Rage and Zona, for instance, the topic itself — D.H. Lawrence, Tarkovsky’s film Stalker — is always essentially in service of the writing, which is exactly the opposite of how nonfiction is set up to operate.

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