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Esquire
Wednesday, February 12th, 2003


 

Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It

by Geoff Dyer

Don't Judge This Book By Its Title

A review by Heather Caldwell

Geoff Dyer's books are not so much separate, distinct works as they are pieces in an ongoing project: "an endless accretion — a kind of negative archaeology — of material." The typical writer's plight — setting out to write one book, and then getting derailed into another, or, more likely, no book at all — is Dyer's subject, both in his brilliant 1999 memoir, Out of Sheer Rage, and in this latest work, Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It. "I once believed that the only way I was going to write a book I had almost given up all hope of writing was to go and live in Detroit," he writes in Yoga. "I'd had the idea for this book in Rome; it was going to be about the ruins of classical antiquity, but I'd gradually fallen into ruin myself." Yoga contains eleven loosely linked essays, each exploring how travel, like writing itself, invariably leads to failure: You arrive at your destination only to discover you don't really even want to be there. And it's precisely this moment, argues Dyer, that makes travel — and the creation of art — so meaningful and necessary. Consistently witty and insightful ("I was an archaeologist only in the linguistic sense: I dug the past."), Dyer casually weaves the likes of Nietzsche and Auden into ruminations on a drug trip in Paris, a friendship in New Orleans, a desert ruin in Libya. His project has a generous message: that our procrastinations are as interesting as our goals, our failures as compelling as our original undertakings.


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