Otherwise Known as the Human Condition by Geoff Dyer
Selected Essays and Reviews

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Synopsis

*Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism*


*A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice*


*A New York Times Top 10 Nonfiction Book of the Year, as selected by Dwight Garner*



Geoff Dyer has earned the devotion of passionate fans on both sides of the Atlantic through his wildly inventive, romantic novels as well as several brilliant, uncategorizable works of nonfiction. All the while he has been writing some of the wittiest, most incisive criticism we have on an astonishing array of subjects--music, literature, photography, and travel journalism--that, in Dyer's expert hands, becomes a kind of irresistible self-reportage.



Otherwise Known as the Human Condition collects twenty-five years of essays, reviews, and misadventures. Here he is pursuing the shadow of Camus in Algeria and remembering life on the dole in Brixton in the 1980s; reflecting on Richard Avedon and Ruth Orkin, on the status of jazz and the wonderous Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, on the sculptor ZadKine and the saxophonist David Murray (in the same essay), on his heroes Rebecca West and Ryszard Kapus´cin´ski, on haute couture and sex in hotels. Whatever he writes about, his responses never fail to surprise. For Dyer there is no division between the reflective work of the critic and the novelist's commitment to lived experience: they are mutually illuminating ways to sharpen our perceptions. His is the rare body of work that manages to both frame our world and enlarge it.


 

About Geoff Dyer

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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.
 
Published March 29, 2011 by Graywolf Press. 437 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Otherwise Known as the Human Condition

Kirkus Reviews

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But the book is chock-full of Dyer at his most open, thoughtful and lyrical, as in his study of photographs of Rodin sculptures, his appreciation of Rebecca West’s neglected travel writings and a candid piece about the first time he was fired, where, in exposing his 20-something childishness, he ...

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The New York Times

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“Pretty soon, though, you are waiting for it to end.” Reading James Salter’s novel “Light Years,” he remarks that the young couple in it, Nedra and Viri, are “possibly the most irritatingly named characters in literature.” About Susan Sontag’s novels, which he likes less than her messier...

Mar 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Otherwise Known as the Human ...

The New York Times

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This collection of writings on what Geoff Dyer calls “the unruly range” of his concerns centers on photography, music and socio-historical subjects.

Apr 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Otherwise Known as the Human ...

Publishers Weekly

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Sebald and Thomas Bernhard, Dyer writes: “The comic obsessiveness and neurosis common to many of Sebald’s characters is like a sedated version of the relentless, raging frenzy into which Bernhard’s narrators habitually drive themselves.” Dyer’s writing does what the best critical writin...

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New York Journal of Books

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But, rather remarkably, Mr. Dyer’s need to collect his work—for those who, like he, missed it the first time around in the context of the magazine or newspaper in question—actually benefits from this act of gathering them into book form, not only by providing the chance to read them fresh here, b...

Mar 29 2011 | Read Full Review of Otherwise Known as the Human ...

USA Today

The ties that bind those anchoring, strangling threads are the fabric of The Condition, Jennifer Haigh's new novel about a foundering New England family.

May 08 2015 | Read Full Review of Otherwise Known as the Human ...

Oregon Live

So instead of starting with the new "Otherwise Known as the Human Condition," I read two of his earlier books: "Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It," which is about travel, anxiety, and boredom and "Out of Sheer Rage," which is about trying, and failing, to write a book about D.H.

Apr 02 2011 | Read Full Review of Otherwise Known as the Human ...

Review (Barnes & Noble)

Whether you read it to see the intellectual development of one of the most interesting critics currently working in English, or to see "a glimpse of a...way of being a late-twentieth-early-twenty-first-century man of letters" (as Dyer puts it), or simply to have your mind pleasantly smacked aroun...

Apr 08 2011 | Read Full Review of Otherwise Known as the Human ...

PopMatters

Dyer makes clear that he never much cared for work and that he was more than willing to forego the advantages of a more materially rich life and bourgeois respectability for the pleasures of connoisseurship and undirected study—as Dyer puts it, he and his friends “did what we wanted all day.” Dye...

Mar 09 2011 | Read Full Review of Otherwise Known as the Human ...

Portland Book Review

The book is divided into Visuals, Verbals, Musicals, Variables, and Personals and is clever, thoughtful and slightly eccentric without being the least bit sarcastic or bitter.

Nov 03 2011 | Read Full Review of Otherwise Known as the Human ...

Full Stop

In Otherwise Known as the Human Condition: Selected Essays and Reviews (1989-2010), critic and novelist Geoff Dyer is an ambitious rambler through many subjects, from W.G.

Mar 18 2011 | Read Full Review of Otherwise Known as the Human ...

The Paris Review

Part of his novel Ascent (2007), about Soviet pilots flying MiGs in Korea, can be read as a commentary on—or duel with?—Salter, whose novel, presumably, served as template and inspiration.) Cassada has at its core an event that is in some ways a reworking of the kind of crisis imaginatively depic...

Mar 29 2011 | Read Full Review of Otherwise Known as the Human ...

The Paris Review

Maybe it’s because I’m screwed up, but those are the stories that I love the most, that I think are the most sort of delightful to read in anyone else’s memoir or book of essays.

Mar 19 2013 | Read Full Review of Otherwise Known as the Human ...

The Paris Review

“Writing, for me, has always been a way of not having a career,” Geoff Dyer explains, by way of introduction, in his new essay collection Otherwise Known as the Human Condition .

Apr 19 2011 | Read Full Review of Otherwise Known as the Human ...

The Paris Review

But that kind of dry humor, that sort of back and forth between the really serious and the funny—without putting the funny bits in italics, as it were—that’s something which I think is common to my life and my writing.

Apr 19 2011 | Read Full Review of Otherwise Known as the Human ...

Statesman.com

It's a point I disagree with, but in a similar vein, I'd suggest that Dyer's own principal claim to literary survival will be his hybrid creations — the improvised jazz lives of "But Beautiful," the emotional landscape sketches in "Yoga," for example — and the best of the essays collected here.

Apr 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Otherwise Known as the Human ...

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