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The Colour of Memory

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  389 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
A wonderful, nostalgic novel about youth in London in the 1980s
Paperback, 254 pages
Published May 1st 1997 by Little Brown and Company (first published 1990)
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Brian Grover
Jun 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cities-foreign
This was an impulse buy made while strolling past McNally Jackson one night, but I'm extremely happy to have made it. It's essentially a book with no plot, just 60 short chapters strung together that piece out a year in the life of a group of 20-something friends in the London suburb of Brixton in the late '80s. They're a group of would-be artists and layabouts who have little ambition beyond scraping out a living and enjoying each others' company, which sounds like it could be insufferable. It' ...more
Sep 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book without a plot (as acknowledged by the author himself) still tells a great story, in the same way a picture can tell a story. It's more a series of vignettes, each pretty much stands alone but they are woven together to form a year-in-the-life tale of young drifting Londoners in the 1980s. A lot of subtleties in how the characters are developed, nothing in your face. The more I think about this book the more I like it.
Feb 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: memories, postmodern
Reading this book felt like listening to jazz. It swept me with a deep nostalgia for someone else's memories.
It is a collection of Imagery and descriptions. And those odd thoughts which fill the mind but don't often come on paper.
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite-books
I just love this book. I've read it so many times
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book oozes England. I think it may be one of my favourites. I am completely in awe. I have no other words. It was beautiful.

Peter Landau
Jun 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes the characters let you know what’s going on in THE COLOUR OF MEMORY by Geoff Dyer, like when one, a writer, explains that he never applies plot. Plot kills. This first novel kills, but not mortally, and, of course, it’s plotless. The other way Dyer pops into the narrative is by an aside, slipping next to you and whispering in your ear, such as when he explains that memory, like this book, is more a collection of snapshots that capture not only a moment of your time and place, but those ...more

If a book is called a novel and is without a plot, then there must be something special in between its pages to keep you reading. This one has no plot and has nothing special about it, apart from the rumours you've heard about the apparently wonderful author of it- which leaves you with even more disappointment because of the great expectation.
However, there are some really good snapshots of life as we know it, that make you slightly nostalgic and urge you forward through each pag
Aug 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I became a fan of Geoff Dyer's writing style a couple if years ago and am making my way through his books. His style is clear and honest, opposite of pretentious, and he works very hard to make it feel fresh, sensitive, funny all at different moments. This first novel set in 1980s Brixton section of London is all those things and it was a pleasure to find it in the U.S.
Aug 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
As noted above, this is my all-time favorite book. I like everything about it; the unconventional style, the language, the stories, the world it creates and the situations it evokes. Every time I read it I get more out of it. Recommended for everyone.
Dec 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a deceptively simple tale of life among a group of 20-somethings in 1980s Brixton, UK.

I got to the end and had to sit back with closed eyes and embrace my own post-college experiences up and down the Northeast Corridor here in the States during those very same years. Friends, moments of joy, strange encounters, dead-end jobs, vivid colors of brick row houses, faded wooden roof decks, and early evening skies. The sounds of a softball game three blocks away, the shouts of the South Philly
"This would have been a quick read except I got distracted by a massive biography of Hitler and housecleaning in anticipation of some new furniture.

"While cleaning I found dust and dirt in every possible place. I eventually decided it was too much trouble and went to the grocery store, where I ran into Bobby, who was standing in front of the broccoli bin, scribbling on a legal pad."

That's a weak parody of what "The Colour of Memory" is like. Anecdotal, cryptic, occasionally funny, deadpan, point
Jul 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up The Colour of Memory after seeing it on a "Recommended" shelf at one of the libraries I frequent. I liked the cover design and the praise for its British author, Geoff Dyer, and the fact it was about twentysomething friends in 1980s south London. And then I started reading it, and it was just not what I was expecting at all. I don't mind books with no plots, but the characters need to be memorable enough to capture your attention, and I got to the end not feeling like I fully knew an ...more
May 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How does one review a book like this that has virtually no "story", although it's classified as fiction? But then Geoff Dyer is hardly about plot/story. And in that sense, it's exactly what we Geoff Dyer fans would expect. Plus, this one seems much more "natural", unlike some of his other fictional works which although still carrying the similar ingredients, seem forced -- the characters seem orchestrated/manipulated by the author, not real characters, more archetypes. Here the characters seem e ...more
Mark Love
Jun 03, 2010 rated it it was ok
Luke kindly gave me this, and said "not much happens" which I nearly gave as a three word review, but it deserves more.

Set in Brixton in the mid 1980s The Colour Memory follows a group of young adults enjoying themselves, hanging out and generally doing what young adults do. There isn't much of a plot (derided by one of the characters in the book, who is an aspiring writer, as "the ruin of a good book") and the whole thing feels more like looking at a sequence of paintings rather than reading a
Sep 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: David Stormer
Wonderful! And this was his first novel! He describes in loving, witty and clear-eyed detail this big city world (the down-and-out, dangerous suburbs of London) of emerging adults who live a hand-to-mouth, bumbling, stumbling, funny, sometimes creative existence in rooms that you can smell. There is no real plot - or only a tiny one - but I was so entranced with each of the characters that their existence and interaction held me. It's an edgy, funny account of an age that, though I've long passe ...more
Colin N.
Jul 25, 2011 rated it liked it
I have really liked other works by Dyer, and there is some nice imagery here and there in this book, but as a whole it rambles a bit without any point. "Color" sets out the interlocking lives of college-aged kids in 80s Brixton, including a narrator loosely based on Dyer himself - hanging out, doing drugs, moving in and out of relationships, living on the dole, going to bars. He nicely evokes a specific time and place, with a good eye for detail, but this reads to me like an early work (which it ...more
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a beautifully odd book. There's no real plot, and because of that I didn't feel a huge pull to read it (evidenced by how long it took me to finish it), but whenever I did sit down to read I realized I was really enjoying myself. Dyer's writing style is fantastic and so descriptive while narrating the most mundane of moments that they feel worthy of being written down. Reading this book is like stepping in and out of someone else's memories.
Jonathan Hiskes
A 'Lost Generation' novel about unemployed twenty-somethings bumming around Brixton/South London in the 1980s. The backdrop is the apparently limitless generosity of the British welfare state and the meaningless of work in late 20th-century a bureaucratic state (which is why the healthy young characters can't be bothered with work). I loved Dyer's next Lost-Gen novel, Paris Trance (and many of his books), but the characters here just didn't have much spark.
Davide Rubini
Probably it starts with Dyer the British tradition of non-stories, novels written by incredibly talented and skillful writers completely deprived of any sense of the plot to the point of flirting with boredom. When this book came out Dyer, who has probably written better stuff, was acclaimed as the new wonderboy of British literature and one wonders how desertish must have been the literary scene in those years. Only plus is that it tells a lot about the area where I live, a few years back.
Ahana Maitra
Jun 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Geoff Dyer's The Colour of Memory is the perfect book for rainy afternoons. There is no plot, which seems slightly off-putting at first; but the almost musical quality of Dyer's prose more than makes up for it. I was unsure about this one at first, but it left me with a most pleasant, warm and fuzzy feeling.
Yashoda Sampath
Feb 02, 2010 rated it liked it
It was ok. It went by quickly, and functioned as a lovely vignette in a way, but it was too innocent in many ways. I don't know how you can have a book about riot era Brixton without any riots!

Mainly it was about pretentious faux-bohemians getting their asses kicked. Which really I have no objection to.
Lucy Hastings
Apr 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I read this book when I moved to Brixton. It is about a group of friends that just hang out in South London . As the books describes 'it is a time when 'you do not form friendships, but are formed by them.' A lovely book that describes Brixton in the late 80's perfectly. Geoff Dyer, a local man himself, writes so perceptively about friendships. If you liked this one you'll like Paris Trance too.
Jun 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Eh. Some passages of this book had me laughing out loud, but I also found myself wanting to skip pages at a time. This book was not engaging. I liked the writing style, but I wanted a different story.
Tara Busa
May 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quiet plot driven by the lives of a group of 20 somethings. Beautifully written, studded with smart observations of life and human nature that creep up on you while you're reading. Love Dyer's unique description of color and dry humor.
Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"In August it rained all the same..."

A colourful portrait of South London in the eighties, which reminds me of sensations I have had in this gloomy London weather, and interesting characters that I feel will stay with me for a long time. Especially Freddie.
Feb 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I stuck with this until the end, waiting for the characters to be moved to change by the emptiness and futility of their experience. A week later, I'm having trouble even remembering what it was about. Perhaps you can skip this one????
Nov 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Geoff Dyer's first novel. It seems raw as though he is testing out a lot of the things he would use in later fiction and non-fiction. Some works, some doesn't, but it does capture that fleeting moments in one's 20s when you think the world is always going to be like that. An enjoyable read.
May 17, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book heavy going, possibly because it meanders around the lives of the 20 somethings without any real direction that I could see. I would probably have found it more relevant a few years ago when I was at that stage in my life but have moved on now.
Paul Veracka
Damn funny ~ Damn pretty ~ takes you along through a plotless, cloudy story, giving you a uniquely clear literary experience. Delicious overall.
Elizabeth Lund
I kind of knew this wouldn't be for me, but I gave it a try.
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Geoff Dyer was born in Cheltenham, England, in 1958. He was educated at the local Grammar School and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He is the author of four novels: Paris Trance, The Search, The Colour of Memory, and, most recently, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi; a critical study of John Berger, Ways of Telling; five genre-defying titles: But Beautiful (winner of a 1992 Somerset Maugham Prize ...more
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