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The Ongoing Momentby Geoff Dyer
Synopses & Reviews
In his most recent book, Yoga for People Who Cant Be Bothered to Do It, Geoff Dyer confessed that not only did he not take pictures in the course of his travels but that he does not even own a camera. With characteristic perver-sityand trademark originalityDyer has now come up with an idiosyncratic history of
. . . photography. Seeking to identify their signature styles, Dyer looks at the ways in which such canonical figures as Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Walker Evans, André Kertész, Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange, Diane Arbus, and William Eggleston, among others, have photographed the same things (barber shops, benches, hands, roads, and signs, for example). In doing so, he constructs a narrative in which these photographersmany of whom never metconstantly encounter one another.
Great photographs change the way we see the world; The Ongoing Moment changes the way we look at both. It is the most ambitious example to date of a form of writing that Dyer has made his own: the nonfiction work of art.
"Having already tackled jazz (But Beautiful) and D.H. Lawrence (Out of Sheer Rage), cultural critic Dyer now turns his intelligent and discriminating eye to photography. Essentially a fast-moving series of highly focused 'close readings,' his volume zeros in on the way 'certain photographs serve as nodes, places where subjects initially considered distinct converge and merge.' Thus Paul Strand's 'Blind Woman, New York, 1916' leads Dyer not only to other photographs of the blind by Lewis Hine and Gary Winogrand, but also to a survey of different portraits of blind author Jorge Luis Borges and to a consideration of Walker Evans's SX-70 photographs. Like the great English critic John Berger (Ways of Seeing), whom Dyer wrote about in Ways of Telling, the author has a lively and dramatic sense of provocation. He declares, for instance, that William Eggleston's photographs look 'like they were taken by a Martian who lost the ticket for his flight home and ended up working at a gun shop in a small town near Memphis.' He also has a loose-limbed — and mostly surefooted — ability to balance a number of elements into a functioning whole. In an overcrowded field, Dyer's book is distinguished by an idiosyncratic and infectious enthusiasm. 8 pages color illus. not seen by PW." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In his most ambitious work to date, the acclaimed author of "Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It" offers an irresistibly idiosyncratic look at what viewers see when they look at photographs. in color.
About the Author
Geoff Dyer is the author of three novels, a critical study of John Berger, and four genre-defying books, including But Beautiful, which was awarded the Somerset Maugham Prize, and Out of Sheer Rage, which was a National Book Critics Circle finalist. He lives in London.
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