Geoff Dyer is the author of The Colour of Memory, Paris Trance, The Search, and Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi. Described by Zadie Smith as, 'sort of like a post-modern Kingsley Amis,' his most recent book is Zona.
The month of February saw the award winning novelist in conversation with Professor Josh Cohen at Goldsmiths University, London. The evening was in celebration of the new Goldsmiths award for innovative fiction in association with the New Statesman, to be judged by Nicola Barker, Jonathan Derbyshire, Gabriel Josipovici, and Tim Parnell (Chair).
Geoff Dyer was the second author in the promotional programme with James Kelman being the first and Ali Smith being the third. With a £10,000 winning prize on offer the award was sure to attract media interest which it has, but the organisers have gone one better by holding these sessions with recognised authors.
Many attended Dyer's talk at the Whitehead Building on campus and I took my place amongst them. After a splendid introduction by Cohen, Dyer jumped straight into it by warming up the audience with his sharp wit before reading an extract from a new story. We then moved onto Q&As where I managed to put a question to Dyer and it went like this.
LP: 'What changes if any have you noticed in your writing since the time you started to now?'
GD: 'Hmm great, great question. The Colour of Memory, my Brixton book, came out in 1989 and has just been reissued. Back then there weren't even digital files so because they had to reset it, I had the chance to make some changes. I re-read it. I was really struck by first of all, something that is so sad. There's a lyrical thing going on there, not surprising it's a first novel but I really like the lyricism in that. Apart from a few things in the Venice book, that's really faded.
If I went and told a literary doctor that, he'd put up the stethoscope and say, 'You're absolutely on course, that's quite right for a man of your age, ( the audience laughs).
It was so sad I'd lost much of the lyricism but equally, the lyricism of course went hand in hand with the tendency to overwrite stuff. And then the influences I've been under have changed. I think the (Albert) Camu thing is strong there. The Thomas Bernhard thing has kicked in and I think I really got into the idea of repetition. Those would be the two things I've noticed.'
The evening was rounded off with a few more questions then a bit of traditional book signing.
With the Goldsmith's Prize we have another literary showpiece and if it can unearth, then shine the spotlight on talented authors like many others do, it will surely be a good thing.