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Paris Trance: A Romance [Paperback]

Geoff Dyer
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 17.56 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

March 30 2010
Paris Trance is the story of two expatriates, Luke and Alex, who meet in Paris and become inseparable.  Each falls in love, and the two couples travel the city together in a fever of indulgence and self-discovery.  Boldly erotic and hauntingly elegaic, comic and romantic, this brilliant retelling of the classic Lost Generation novels confirmed Geoff Dyer as one of our most daring and versatile writers.

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From Amazon

Recipe for a millennial novel about twentysomethings living abroad: Take two couples and combine with equal parts desperation and languid slacking. Gently blend with just a pinch of romance. Actually, on second thought, just dump a whole lot of sex into the pot and bring to a boil. Sprinkle with lengthy discussions about the merits of particular movies, directors, etc. Finally, just add drugs. Ready to serve!

Geoff Dyer's Paris Trance is full of these ingredients. Luke and Alex are Englishmen living in Paris, spending their days packing books in a warehouse and spending their free time playing football and quoting sections of dialogue from Blade Runner. Soon they hook up with their respective mates--Luke with Nicole, Alex with Sahra--and proceed to party heavily.

What distinguishes this novel from its hip brethren is its ability to evoke a sense of coziness with these expatriates, to the point where their idle chitchat seems utterly familiar, if benign. Here's some of the loopy, go-nowhere dialogue with which Dyer fills their mouths:

"I can't imagine not being with him, either," said Nicole. "But I can imagine him not being with me--but I can't imagine him being with anyone else. Whereas although I can't imagine me not being with him, I can imagine me being with someone else. Does that make sense? I'm not sure I followed it myself."
Neither are we. But that's beside the point. Paris Trance succeeds and fails on its own set of criteria--how to capture a moment in time and preserve a feeling within it. In this case the feeling is a dreamy, warm one. --Ryan Boudinot --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

"Whatever makes events into a story is almost entirely missing from what follows," claims the narrator of this alluring pseudo-memoir of a blissful interlude lost and remembered. Fashionable fin-de-si?cle lack of faith in the cohesion of experience or the ability of language to contain it detracts nothing from the lyrical intelligence of Dyer's (Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D.H. Lawrence) wittily British "story" of two men playing expat in ParisAone of whom, Alex, is the unstated narrator, though he refers to himself in the third person. The story is this: 27-year-old Luke Barnes has left England for Paris in order to write a novel, but life overtakes his plans. He finds a friend in Alex, who shares his fascination with filmAa medium with the capacity, like music, to repeat itself endlessly. Luke meets and falls in love with Nicole, a beautiful Yugoslavian finishing her studies in Paris; Alex's partner is Sahra, an interpreter also new to the city. The two couples spend their time in search of the ultimate experience, the eternal "now." They vacation together, experiment with sex and drugs and go to dance clubs where the trance-like music prescribes "no distance or direction." Inevitably, ecstasy loses its edge, and as if compelled to enact the ending of one of his beloved films, Luke moves away. When Alex encounters him years later, Luke has embraced a lonely anonymity. The book ends not with this hopeless finality, though, but with the description of a rapturous, timeless afternoon by the sea enjoyed by the four lovers in their heyday. Thus, by writing the novel that Luke should have written, Alex succeeds, to an extent, in conquering time, in giving himself "the chance to rearrange, alter, change; to make things end differently." Hypnotic and evocative, this complicated novel is a superb re-creation of an idyllic time, the dreamy druggy Eden of golden youth. (May) in criticism.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Smashing Surprise Dec 18 2000
I read this book not expecting much. It seemed to be an example of someone trying to recreate the books of the lost generation in post-modern dress. I thought it would fail to be something new. I was astounded at how wrong I was. This book has some major faults but they are sandwhiched between large segments of the novel that are amazingly brilliant. This is, perhaps, the best look at the feelings of early love Ive ever read. The book is a deep look at beauty and happiness, asnd the degree to which moments of happiness survive the passage of time. Dyer brilliantly uses a second person narrator who admitedly tells the reader mental thoughts of the characters that he could not know. He has decided that since the main character will not tell his story, he must do it for him and he must fill in the holes. He does so in brilliant fashion. He captures what it is like to be twentysomething and in love, he captures what it is like to be in love in Paris, and he manages to capture the spirit of lawrence, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Dos Passos WITHOUT it feeling like a retelling of modernism. The book is definitively post-modern both in style and message, but still manages to update the tropes founded by The Sun Also Rises. A must read for any fan of post-modernism OR the lost generation. Dyer may well be Britain's most promising young writer. This is a life-affirming novel.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing Aug. 12 2000
By "r999"
From the reviews I read for this book when it first came out I expected an updated, nostalgic, autumn-golden memoir of young love in Paris. I was excited to hear that Dyer is a young up-and-coming British writer. Throw in what were described as original sex and trendy drug use and you could not be faulted for expecting something very good. Sadly, Paris Trance is poorly written, boring, pretentiously unfunny. Why does Alex hold Luke up as a model? Why does Dyer so awkwardly go about making Alex to be the narrator? Why does the reader not care about any of the characters in the least? I can answer this last question: the girls are nothing but pretty, the boys are nothing but competitive and uncharmingly pop-cultured. These are among the most forgettable, interchangeable characters I have read of since Ellis's "The Rules of Attraction". Please--I would like very much to read about sex- and drug-fiend, clever slackers living in Paris in the 90's; but not if the author is awkward and uninterested in his characters
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Luke moves to Paris and, with his new love and another expatriate couple from whom they become inseparable, wanders the Eleventh Arrondissement, where clubs, cafes, banter, and drugs occupy the "City of Lights". In Paris Trance, novelist Geoff Dyer writes of Luke's dream of happiness (and its aftermath) with a definitive and authentic intensity. This is a work of eroticism, romance, youth, humor, and originality that can be highly recommended to anyone who has a taste for the expatriate novels of the pre-war 1920s and 30s, and post-war 1950s and 60s eras.
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