Claire's Reviews > Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi

Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi by Geoff Dyer
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Mar 29, 2011

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Read in March, 2011

Geoff Dyer is one of my favorite authors, but his work is difficult to characterize. I've read nearly all of his books (own several) except the one that's a study of John Berger's essays and a new one I only recently discovered. There are the quasi travel memoirs, a more critical look at photography, a musing on jazz, as well as some fiction.

Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi is a novel in two parts, just like the title. Having read many stories of the author's own adventures abroad, I recognized his voice in the character Jeff. Enough to make me think the Biennale in Venice and life in Varanasi have much in common with his descriptions of them.

I preferred the Jeff in Venice section of the book which transpires mainly in Venice, Italy during a biennial art festival aptly called the Biennale. His descriptions of the art parties made me feel like I was there while reminding me it's not my scene.

The Death in Varanasi section switches to a first person narrative that may or may not be Jeff from the first section of the book. It gave me a feel for the city Varanasi in India along the Ganges although no desire to visit.

The book is sort of the perfect vicarious experience of both cities.
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