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Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H.W. Bush Hardcover – May 20, 2014
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An aircraft carrier has frequently been described as a floating city. That is certainly the impression given by this unique, interesting, and surprising account of Dyer’s stay on the carrier George H. W. Bush as it cruised around the eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf. But this is not an ordinary city. It is a city where an outsider immediately becomes aware that it is primed for high-tech warfare. As Dyer indicates, the officers, as expected, are highly trained; but even men who used to be referred to as swab jockeys are technologically proficient in specialized areas. Their onboard leisure activities are limited, which is understandable since 14-hour workdays are common. Most of the crew handle the pressures of constant drilling necessary to maintain military readiness, but Dyer notes some cases of burnout and attempted suicide. The physical environment of the ship ranges from claustrophobic mazes of narrow passages on the lower decks to the immense open surface of the flight deck. Fascinating. --Jay Freeman
Charles McGrath, New York Times
“[Dyer’s] account of his stay on the ship is mostly blissful, filled with curiosity and with admiration for the crew and the dangerous, difficult work it does: repairing airplanes, flinging them up into the sky and then snagging them when they come back down again.”
Los Angeles Review of Books
“Remarkable….the book is very, very funny, from beginning to end. It is also incredibly moving, in the way only fresh and generous writing can be…. By the end of the book Dyer can state unabashedly that he’s had one of the greatest encounters of his life on this boat, and I’m right there with him.”
"Dyer soars for the rest of the book, which shares sea legs with David Foster Wallce's brilliant cruice-ship essay A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again."
San Francisco Chronicle
“Terrific reading . . . . And so with this generous, illuminating and very funny book, Geoff Dyer, one of the most inquisitive writers in the English language, has proven his writing chops on land and at sea. What’s left? We need to send him to space.”
New York Times Book Review
“This is what I love about Geoff Dyer’s work: His feet are never on the ground.”
New York Observer
“Very much the flipside of Wallace’s most famous essay, ‘A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again’ . . . . Another Great Day at Sea is like the more expensive sequel with a punchier moral . . . . Where a lesser writer—or, it must be said, even Wallace—would keep an icy distance, Mr. Dyer becomes one of the crew members”
“Hilarious and oddball and nearly perfect, and you’ll learn more than you ever thought you wanted to know about aircraft carriers . . . . I love this book.”
Los Angeles Times
“Dyer is to essays what Anthony Bourdain is to food.”
“Dyer’s antic, anxious, inventive mind is often fun to follow”
“A revelation to lovers of literature, who’ll learn about the military from a master stylist, and to those who love ships and planes, who’ll have the pleasure of a new perspective from a great writer.”
“Dyer seems to be channeling . . . John Steinbeck . . . . The writing is loose and thin yet studded with conversational gems”
New York Magazine
“Dyer, at his best, is outstanding. He is one of our greatest living critics, not of the arts but of life itself, and one of our most original writers. . . .The essential fact about Dyer’s nonfiction is that it works beautifully when it shouldn’t work at all. . . .What’s going on in these sentences is the fundamental business of nonfiction: the translation, at once exact and surprising, of world to word. . . .Dyer’s books don’t just have gorgeous throwaway moments. They are gorgeous throwaway moments, a series of extraordinary asides in the long sentence that is life.”
Time Out New York’s “Pick Your Perfect Summer Read”
“If you’re bobbing on the briny sea, you’ll relate to the author’s two weeks in the Persian Gulf and will delight in every digression about dentists and the pleasures of farting alone in one’s room.”
“The average writer would make this disparity into fish-out-of-water commentary, but Dyer starts there and then goes off into space, spinning his observations into something profound and beautiful that socks you in the gut.”
“The notion of installing a writer of Dyer’s baroquely sensitive and self-conscious temperament aboard an American aircraft carrier stationed in the Persian Gulf is obviously a stroke of genius. . . .Thoroughly enjoyable. . . .The pleasure it delivers comes from two sources: Dyer’s potent descriptive talent as he evokes the sequestered and sometimes surreal environment and society of the carrier, and the comedy he derives from his own fish-out-of-water status and high-strung personality. . . .Dyer’s best is much more than good enough.”
“As concentratedly funny as anything he’s written….you read him for his ability to turn every topic, no matter how uncompromising, into another excellent excuse for a book by Geoff Dyer.”
“A unique and compelling stylist and a charming reporter, Dyer seems to have an absolute bang-up time on this assignment, and it’s a pleasure to go along with him….What I found most remarkable about this book is that Dyer’s uniform delight with everything and everybody he meets never gets monotonous.”
Tom Lavoie, Shelf Awareness
“Geoff Dyer is one of those writers who can’t stop—he’ll write about anything that catches his fancy and do it really well….This is a riveting (excuse the pun) excursion into bigness and ‘endless walkways, hatches, and doorways,’ and it’s totally engrossing…..Dyer goes on quite a trip and keeps us intrigued the whole way.”
“An often hilarious and aphoristic, short-chaptered account written by a British essayist who is fascinated by American culture….a highly entertaining read.”
“Geoff Dyer deftly blends two stories into one short book: a closely observed, respectful account of life and work aboard an aircraft carrier, and the comic adventure of being ‘the oldest and tallest person on ship,’ ducking and stooping his head constantly, struggling with the food and the noise of jets.”
Tampa Bay Tribune
“In a book where metaphors and similes could easily run wild, Dyer deploys them sparingly and to good effect….It’s hard not to like a writer who can admit that, in talking to crew members about a man-overboard emergency, he comes armed ‘with my knack for idiotic pleasantry, anchored in zero knowledge’….The ship’s routines and drills meant there was ‘never a dull moment,’ yet ‘an endless succession of dull moments.’ Nothing dull about Dyer, though.”
Jason Diamond, Flavorwire
“When Geoff Dyer wants to write about something, he gets totally into it. Be it a Russian film or yoga, Dyer’s unique take on whatever situation he’s focused on always yields a great book. In this latest case, Dyer finds himself on an American supercarrier, and the results are nothing short of superb.”
“When Dyer delves into a specific topic, he delves deeply, which is why we’re looking forward to his latest exploration: what life aboard an aircraft carrier is like. As always, he laces his observations with comedy and captivating storytelling.”
Jay Freeman, Booklist
“Unique, interesting, and surprising . . . fascinating.”
Billy Collins, author of Aimless Love
“Geoff Dyer has managed to do again what he does best: insert himself into an exotic and demanding environment (sometimes, his own flat, but here, the violent wonders of an aircraft carrier) and file a report that mixes empathetic appreciation with dips into brilliant comic deflation. Welcome aboard the edifying and sometimes hilarious ship Dyer.”
Annie Dillard, author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
“What could be better than weeks far away on the flat seas of the Arabian Gulf with Geoff Dyer? He is, if possible, even more witty and charming than usual. The carrier's hugeness, its crew's tireless cheer and openness, and the enormous mechanical and electrical forces at work everywhere fare wonderfully here with Dyer's unique combination of depth, irreverence and explosive humor.”
John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead
“I hope one day to meet the demented genius who decided to put Geoff Dyer aboard an American aircraft carrier. The result sounds in places as if Sterne en route to his sentimental journey had paused for a week's stint on HMS Victory. There's something like New Journalism happening but in the hands of a writer who'll suddenly flash out sentences such as, 'The sea was a prairie of glitter green.' In the end one is forced to call it "a Dyer book," which luckily for him and us is a high compliment.”
“Dyer stows himself away on an American aircraft carrier, fortunately, with all his hilarious tics in place. A rare kind of non-fiction, with sentences that keep on giving long after your eye has sailed on.”
Brenda Wineapple, author of Ecstatic Nation
“Another Great Day at Sea, Geoff Dyer's chronicle of his two weeks in residence aboard the USS George H. W. Bush, is a tale of routine, lyricism and terror, of long hours and hard work, and of camaraderie and conviction, which are a form of faith. Original, humane, and very funny, Another Great Day is another great book by an incomparable writer.”
David Finkel, author of Thank You for Your Service
“Another Great Day at Sea is what we’ve all come to expect from Geoff Dyer—another great book. I loved everything about it. It’s brilliantly observed, beautifully written, incisive, funny, and filled with stirring truths about life and the value of service.”
Sam Lipsyte, author of The Fun Parts: Stories
“A great day is any day you get to read Geoff Dyer, and this book is no exception. Witty, empathetic, and insatiably curious, Dyer is the perfect guide to the floating world of an American aircraft carrier. With Another Great Day at Sea he makes a perfect night landing on the ‘postage stamp,' with élan to spare.”
Tom Bissell, author of Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation
“I have read Geoff Dyer on World War I, jazz, photography, the Venice Biennale, and D. H. Lawrence, among many other subjects. It's as though his mind is slave to some unpredictable Internet browser inaccessible to the rest of us. His new book—an inimitably close study of life on an American aircraft carrier—is one of his best, funniest, and most humane yet. Geoff Dyer remains an unconventionally great writer—perhaps the most bafflingly great writer at work in the English language today.”
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Look up "Neptunus Lex" on the web to see the influence he had.
So I wondered how I could possibly learn more about carrier operations by reading this book.
Well, it is a perfect companion to Lex's writings, because while Lex (who was XO of the TOPGUN program at one time and had over 4,000 hours of FA/18 time) went to great effort in telling people **how ** things were on a carrier, Dyer tells you how it **feels**.
From the time he leaves Bahrain, he tells you what if **feels** like to ride in the Navy's cargo hauler and bus, the Greyhound.
What happens when it misses the trap and had to make another attempt at landing on the carrier. As he wrote you leave a familiar world and in 40 minutes you have landed on a completely alien world.
But frankly the guy pissed me off just a bit (knowing, as GB Shaw mentioned that Britain and America are 2 countries separated by a common language) the American slang of "pissed" is different from the British version).
And our meaning definitely doesn't involve alcohol.
The author makes it a point of saying how much he dislikes the accommodations the Navy has assigned him, and is actually proud of the fact that after enough "whinging" he is assigned a "VIP" room.
And throughout the book a constant theme is his dissatisfaction of the food offered him.
whinge (hw nj, w nj)
intr.v. whinged, whing•ing, whing•es Chiefly British
To complain or protest, especially in an annoying or persistent manner.
He is finally satisfied (and to avoid putting the "spoiler" moniker on me I will refrain from telling you how) but his constant whining, particularly to a reader who over the years came to appreciate the people who make carriers work, as taught by a man who loved his Navy and died in its service) - - well, his attitude really irritated me.
It is a credit to the Captain and crew of the Bush that they treated him as a guest, no matter how unreasonable, and his refusal to totally immerse himself into their world and live as they lived is a loss for him, and not a gain for the reader.
With all that being said the book is still worth a read.
Usually I pass along books after reading them...this one went into the trash. I regret buying it, but thankful bought it used.
As more than one officer told me, few people at their age have responsibility for the safety of multi-million dollar aircraft, their pilots while laden with deadly ordinance. Truly an awe inspiring experience perfectly captured by Mr. Dyer.
Felt like I was aboard ship and could feel my fillings rattle every time a jet landed or took off. An enjoyable read, and I’m glad I stuck around.
Not overall a bad book, just not what I was looking for. I certainly do not plan to check out anything else he has written as the carrier aspect was what attracted me to this book. What a let down.
If it was not for the 3 hour delay in the Detroit airport and the ten bucks I WAY OVER spent I wouldn't have gotten past the first half.