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Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room by [Dyer, Geoff]
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Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room Kindle Edition

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Editorial Reviews


“Extremely clever. . . . Dyer’s evocation of Stalker is vivid; his reading is acute and sometimes brilliant.” —New York Times Book Review

"The most stimulating book on a film in year." —The New Republic

"We all know what it is like to feel indebted to, and inadequate before, a towering work, but few people have ever described that feeling with the ingenuity or the candor of Dyer. . . . [T]he book is not only readable, it is hard to put down." —The New York Review of Books

“Testifying to the greatness of an underappreciated work of art is the core purpose of criticism, and Dyer has delivered a loving example that’s executed with as much care and craft as he finds in his subject.” —Los Angeles Times

“An unclassifiable little gem. . . . Very funny and very personal.” —San Francisco Chronicle 

“An engaging piece of writing that asks questions about the nature of art and provides a new way to write about film.” —The Atlantic

“Irresistible. . . . Dyer is an enormously seductive writer. He has a wide-ranging intellect, an effortless facility with language, and a keen sense of humor.” —Slate
“[Dyer] finds elements along the way that will keep even non-cinéastes onboard. While he dedicates ample energy to how the movie’s deliberate pacing runs contrary to modern cinema, its troubled production and the nuts and bolts of its deceptively simple parts, Dyer’s rich, restless mind draws the reader in with specific, personal details.” —Los Angeles Times
“Geoff Dyer is at his discursive best in Zona.” —New York Times Magazine
“Intimate, engaging, often brilliant.” —Michael Wood, London Review of Books
“You can read this book in 162 minutes and come away refreshed, enlivened, infuriated, amused, thoughtful, and mystified. An invigorating mixture of responses, but this is a Geoff Dyer book. . . . The most stimulating book on a film in years.” —David Thomson, The New Republic
“If any film demands book-length explication from a writer of Geoff Dyer’s caliber, it’s surely Stalker. . . . Dyer is, as the book amply demonstrates, the perfect counterpart to Tarkovsky. Where the film director is stubbornly slow and obscure, Dyer is a fleet and amusing raconteur with a knack for amusing digressions.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch
“[Dyer] combines a rigorous scholarship and criticism with whimsical digressions, both fictional and autobiographical, to create the light but heady concoction that’s become his signature.” —Time Out New York
“Dyer has been just under the radar for many years now, but [he] deserves the widest of audiences as he writes books that are funny, off-beat and hugely informative. This latest is ostensibly about the Russian filmmaker Tarkovsky, but it’s really about life, love and death—with many jokes and painful-but-true bits along the way.” —Details
Zona is an unpretentious yet deeply involving discussion of why art can move us, and an examination of how our relationship to art changes throughout our lives. It’s also funny, moving and unlike any other piece of writing about a movie.” —The Huffington Post
“Dyer’s language is at its most efficient in this book, conversational and spare. . . . Cultural artifacts worthy of this degree of obsession are rare and it’s a pleasure to read Dyer’s wrestling with one.” —New York Observer 
“Fascinating. . . . Dyer remains a uniquely relevant voice. In his genre-jumping refusal to be pinned down, he’s an exemplar of our era. And invariably, he leaves you both satiated and hungry to know where he’s going next.” —NPR
“The comedy and stoner’s straining for meaning is always present. And, when it is rewarded, as it so often is with rich associative memoir and creative criticism in Zona, we feel complicit, we celebrate the sensation at the end of all that straining, alongside with him.” —The Daily Beast
“Fascinating. . . . Dyer’s unpredictable and illuminating observations delighted and amused . . . all the way through.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Wickedly funny. . . . The definitive work of an author whose work refuses definition.” —Austin American-Statesman
“[Zona] is about the power of art. It is a case study in how something created by anyone but you can seem like your creation, so deeply does it resonate with the details of your life. This is what Stalker calls the ‘unselfishness of art’ and it is Geoff Dyer’s gift to his readers.” —The Millions
“Geoff Dyer has tricked up Tristram Shandy, cross-bred it with Lady Gaga, and come up with an insightful, audacious, deeply personal, often hilarious and entertaining approach to literature in a world which doesn’t much appreciate art or even the book itself. He is one of the most interesting writers at work today in English.” —Wichita Eagle
“Dyer’s musings on everything from on-set disasters to his desire to join a threesome make for a rich and wacky sojourn.” —Mother Jones

About the Author

Geoff Dyer is the author of four novels (most recently Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi); a critical study of John Berger; a collection of essays, Otherwise Known as the Human Condition; and five highly original nonfiction books, including But Beautiful, which was awarded the Somerset Maugham Prize, and Out of Sheer Rage, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. He lives in London.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3265 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (February 21, 2012)
  • Publication Date: February 21, 2012
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004X6PS1I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #845,408 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I came to this book as a Tarkovsky fan, and as a fan of Stalker in particular, so I was thrilled to discover an author who had taken on a book length study of the film. Unfortunately, that's not really what this slight volume turned out to be. As Dyer (who I was previously unfamiliar with) notes, it's essentially just a scene-by-scene summary of Stalker, generously peppered with personal anecdotes and asides of varying degrees of relevancy. Describing the film rather than discussing it is a hallmark of bad film writing, so I'm not sure what to think of an author who readily aknowledges this around midway through doing just that. Detailed plot summaries haven't been useful or in any way necessary since before the advent of home video. And it seems unlikely that anyone unfamiliar with the film would find much of interest in the book. The whole exercise feels self-indulgent and--to put it bluntly--slightly stupid.

Dyer delights in revealing his bias against cinema's most revered giants--he has no patience for Bresson or Bergman, Godard is dimissed as irrelevant, and he goes on at length about how much he detests Antonioni's l'Avventura. Some contemporary filmmakers are hauled out for a bit of snark for good measure: The oddest bit of criticism here is when the Coen brothers are labeled as "witless." On the other hand, Quentin Tarantino is singled out for praise on a few occasions, and cited as one of the rare filmmakers who is doing "something new," a laughable claim that even the most ardent Tarantino fan knows is untrue.

If I hadn't first looked at the author photo, I'd have guessed that Dyer was half his actual age. The Tarantino stuff, the strained references to lowbrow pop culture artifacts (Bumfights? really?
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker, an outlaw and holy fool leads a Writer and a Professor through the perilous Zone, where they hope to be granted their deepest wish. In the end, though, both discover they may not want to know what it is they most want, and the Stalker despairs for the future of his navigating art. The film itself, however, continues to fascinate and a large part of Dyer's project in this work is to explore the power this film has exerted over him. In the process he develops a quite compelling interpretation of the film and its broader implications regarding life and art and hope, that can at the same time feel somewhat like a highbrow version of Mystery Science Theater, whose critics obviously love what they're laughing at (or with). I know I couldn't put it down - Dyer writes well and is easy to read, and manages to make even difficult insights feel straightforward and fresh. Even more, it brought the film back to life for me, and made me think things about it I hadn't considered any of the several times I've seen it.

I'm not sure there are any books out there this can quite be compared to. Dyer may have invented a new genre, and one that on the basis of this book at least can be said to have a lot of promise. It's not quite criticism or scholarship - even if it's clear that Dyer's done his homework and read pretty much everything there is to read about Tarkovsky's work, and seen or heard about pretty much every major cultural reference to Stalker that has appeared.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I enjoyed Geoff Dyer's "Zona" as a film buff myself and a Tarkovsky fan, as in the present age of ultra-technical, academic writing, one is hard put to find a record of one man's sheer enthusiasm for a film, an enthusiasm I share. The film is indeed like a series of paintings passing one by, every visual itself a still. This is made more remarkable by the bleak, dystopic vision Tarkovsky is creating. As one talented writer's meditation on life and art I love the book.

On the other hand Dyer gets bogged down in his own adolescent views of cinema which are bound to make some devotees of film a bit confused. He had a "difficult time" getting through Robert Bresson's "Diary of a Country Priest" but found a new mecca in Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction". Godard and Bergman are dull and ponderous to him. Perhaps he is as idiosyncratic as Tarkvosky seemed to be with his taste in film, as the famous director once praised "The Terminator" which Arnold Schwarzenneger as a "vision of the future and the relation between man and its destiny is pushing the frontier of cinema as an art". Obsessing over the last scene in the film with the spitting on the Bringer of Hope (a great scene indeed) he fails to mention throughout the entire book that Tarkovsky's movies quickly turn towards an explicitly religious faith.

All these formidable flaws taken into account, I liked it quite a bit. If we had more talents like Dyer writing about their personal tastes in such an innovative style we might have a better glimpse into how the mind of a true artist works.
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