I’m a signed-up fan of Geoff Dyer, who I think is a wonderful, slightly uncategorisable writer who drifts from vignettes about artists, photographers and filmmakers to flights of travelogue fancy which walk the tightrope of memoir and fiction. He’s a great stylist and seems to write in a way that is both accessible and illuminating, which is rare.
This book is similarly difficult to categorise: on the face of it, it’s a scene-by-scene commentary on the war film Where Eagles Dare, starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood; and Dyer is a self-confessed fan of the film. But he also uses this format as a platform for digressing on whatever subject the neurons in his brain connect to, often in very funny footnotes, and to drily mocking the film’s more nonsensical moments.
In that version of the film, Richard Burton’s character is primarily skilled at finding women in a succession of sheds; Clint Eastwood’s character is best at squinting, being quiet and stopping time when considering whether to return a grenade; and the plot twists so many times as to lose all sense of reality. Although, despite all that, it did make me want to watch the film again!
So I don’t know what to tell you, really: it’s almost certainly not the most crucial book you need to read, nor the most substantial. But there are passages and sentences that are brilliant and lots more that are very funny, and it all goes by as swiftly and entertainingly as the film. Recommended!