the funny parts of Geoff Dyer

1330572054669.cachedJonathan Gibbs at Threepenny Review:

The great risk of this essay is that I analyze to death any love, affection, or appreciation anyone might have for the funny bits in Geoff Dyer’s books. My defense comes down to this: seeing as there are so many funny bits in his books, isn’t it odd that they get discussed so seldom? The comedy in Dyer’s oeuvre, it seems to me, is taken as a given, as the light ground to the text that allows the dark, serious, big stuff to stand forth.

That’s one risk, to add to the two general risks we admiring Dyer critics run. Firstly, of taking an academic approach to a writer who took such great delight in burning in disgust a collection of academic essays on D.H. Lawrence—“How could it have happened? How could these people with no feeling for literature have ended up teaching it, writing about it?” And secondly, of saying anything too directly complimentary about a writer who states he has “little instinct for personal reverence and, though I’ve not exactly been inundated with offers, I know I would hate to be revered myself.”

He does make it clear that it’s reverence for the person that is unacceptable. Reverence for the work is fine—for about ten seconds. Perhaps this would be a good point to bring in his line (I’m not quite sure where it originates, but it crops up in plenty of interviews) about writing an inch from life: “I like to write stuff that’s only an inch from life, from what really happened, but all the art is of course in that inch.”

more here.