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Yoga for People Who Can't be Bothered [Paperback]

Geoff Dyer


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Book Description

March 18 2004

In his latest book, Geoff Dyer returns to his favourite subject—himself. In his very distinctive, neurotic, and quirkily humorous voice that has gained him a passionate fan base including Bryan Ferry and Steve Martin, Dyer writes about an accumulation of his experiences as a traveller, from the extraordinary Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert to getting drastically stoned in Paris; from contemplating the great Roman site Leptis Magna in Libya to the downright weirdness of decrepit Detroit. He is both confessional—entertainingly frank about trying to pick up women in Thailand—and very thoughtful—wondering how the power of a particular place such as the Buddha in Si Satchanlai, Thailand, can work on a non-believer.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New edition edition (March 18 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349116237
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349116235
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 200 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #524,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Dyer's ninth book (Out of Sheer Rage; Paris Trance), a collection of 11 personal essays covering his travels around the globe, begins in New Orleans when Dyer is in his late 20s and concludes in the Nevada desert some 20 years later. In between he touches ground in destinations such as Bali and Amsterdam, usually seeking a "peak experience." More often than not, he is disappointed in his quest, but makes engaging stories of many aimless walks, such as wandering stoned through Amsterdam in search of a lost hotel, touring the ruined Roman city of Leptis Magna, or stumbling upon a suicide on South Beach. Even more intriguing than the far-flung locales he describes-such as Cambodia, Libya and Thailand-are the seemingly pedestrian ones he makes exotic. His essay "The Rain Inside," on experiencing a near emotional breakdown at a techno music festival in Detroit, is a masterpiece, equal parts introspection and cutting observation. Though the moments and perceptions he records are fleeting, Dyer deliberately provides touchstones-repeat references to Auden; the durability of his Teva sandals-that mark a path through the book. Fittingly, it's only when he finds himself in the metaphorical nowhere of the TAZ (Temporary Autonomous Zone) at the Burning Man Festival, that this postmodern pilgrim finally finds his place in the world. This original book from a genuine writer-a modern Montaigne-should provide serious readers with a lasting high.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Not as tie-dye as it sounds, this book by award-winning novelist/biographer Dyer chronicles what he himself calls "the whole self-journey thing."
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  41 reviews
29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What would Rilke say about this review? April 10 2003
By E. Filson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I love Geoff Dyer, but this is not his best book. Consisting of stories that take place around the globe and which may or may not have happened or may not have happened quite as presented(the "genre-bending" the publishers are pushing, but anyone whose read autobiographical material... Spalding Gray, Bertrand Russell is aware of the may (not) have happened factor), the stories are Dyer's trademark style and sense of humor unevenly applied. Some of the stories ("Miss Cambodia") are simply excellent. Others are good stories peppered with far too much name checking of other authors ("Leptis Magna") and still others ("The Infinite Edge") are just simply mired in pretentious navel-gazing.
To take the latter, the author is in South-east Asia, but aside from the fact that it's ever-so-green (the first thing anyone notices about the region), there is nothing remotely remarkable about the setting. It is as though Dyer hopped half way around the world to hang around with Western backpackers (which is, I suppose, what all backpackers do, but I digress). Then, to top it off, he (rather, a character) quotes Rilke! So narrator-Geoff has traveled to the ends of the earth to quote Western authors with European backpackers? Ech. It's why people shudder at tourists. Even in "Miss Cambodia," narrator-Geoff admits that he can't distinguish between one temple and the next, but from all the Western quotes sprinkled throughout it becomes apparent that narrator-Geoff has no way to relate to his exotic settings because he knows nothing about them. He only knows a corpus of Occidental thought, DWEM's if you will.
One of the things that made "Out of Sheer Rage" so good was that every location imparted some meaning to narrator-Geoff, every event had an impact central to an intellectual development. Too often in "Yoga" the settings have no meaning whatsoever because they have no purpose for the narrator.
Having gotten my complaints out, I must say that many of the stories had me laughing out loud. The humor is quite self-deprecating in a very un-Bill Bryson way (thank goodness). "Leptis Magna" may lose its momentum navel gazing, but anyone who has ever travelled to a North African country can relate to the author's predicaments and culture barriers.
In short, it's worth reading after you've completed Dyer's better work. Just don't expect to have your Tevas knocked off.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sartre On The Road with his Yoga Mat Jan. 29 2005
By Bohdan Kot - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If the existential philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre wrote a travel memoir, perhaps he would have written "Yoga For People Who Can't Be Bothered To Do It." Geoff Dyer's search for meaning and genuine happiness - a journey that takes him around the world - is loaded with laughs and numerous meditations expounding on pithy quotes by luminaries such as the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and the poet W.H. Auden.

He bungles through New Orleans, Paris, Rome, other exotic destinations and not so beautiful places like Detroit in a stoned Woody Allenesque manner. He beautifully captures the moment of a place and its scene in a clear voice. In Amsterdam he's caught in a downpour after ingesting mushrooms and goes to a nearby café to change. "In the cramped confines of the toilet I had trouble getting out of my wet trousers, which clung to my legs like a drowning man."

Despite excessive self-absorption at times, the book still works on many different levels. Reading this quirky meditation one really gets a three for one deal as travel, philosophy and comedy all take their respective well-deserved bows. But the common thread throughout this text that connects the reader is Dyer's steady stream of honest writing.

Bohdan Kot
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's not what you think Aug. 6 2003
By Peggy Vincent - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Don't buy this book if you're looking for some version of Yoga Lite. It's actually a serious collection of personal essays that chronicle globe-trotting Geoff Dyer's travels between the ages of 20-40. As such, it's really a story about growing up, maturing into some version of adulthood, coming to piece with what Is. Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It is not about yoga - but it IS about finding inner peace.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Drug-Induced States Make for Eye-Opening Global Adventures From a Clever Writer July 30 2006
By Ed Uyeshima - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I have to admit I picked up this book with the comic title because I heard the author writes of his experiences at the Full Moon Party on Hat Rin Beach in Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand. I have indeed been to this relatively isolated island but not to the infamous festival of alcohol and psychedelic trance music. Luckily, British writer Geoff Dyer has actively partaken fully in all the legendary activities that have made the festival's reputation. But this episode is not the only attraction in this slyly funny, surprisingly introspective travel journal, which glides seamlessly from place to place on a magic carpet of hallucinogenic drugs. With a blessed lack of apology, Dyer chronicles his wide variety of mood swings with mind-bending wit and precise observation. A true drifter, he takes his jaundiced eye, as well as his loneliness, frequent listlessness and pervasive self-dissatisfaction, along with him wherever he goes, but what prevents the book from being an incoherent downer is how he makes his restless nature palpable and often hilarious.

In a collection of eleven short stories, the author takes us to New Orleans, Cambodia, Bali, Paris, Ko Pha Ngan, Rome, Miami, Amsterdam, Libya and Detroit, but he makes a point of ending each chapter with something to leave the reader wanting more. It could be a vivid image or a personalized sensation but never a look-back summary. Whether it's musing about the potential of a racially motivated incident on a Mississippi road trip or the details of a suicide in Miami's South Beach or the lush greenery of Bali's rice paddy fields or the artistry of a one-legged barber in Cambodia, Dyer has a gift for conveying his thoughts in an authentic, descriptive way that does not smack of posturing. It seems only appropriate that he ends his book at the Burning Man festival, the pinnacle of radical, often hedonistic self-expression. There, he sneaks up on a deeper purpose in life with little contrivance. If drug-induced states of alternating euphoria and depression are not your cup of tea, clearly this is not the book for you. Otherwise, I suggest you sit back and enjoy a most intriguing and idiosyncratic travel writer.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let go of expectations and enjoy April 25 2004
By Dangle's girl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It's not Geoff Dyer's fault that a lot of people seem pick up this book and think they're going to get something else-a travel guide or a memoir or a philosophical treatise. Judging by the reviews, a lot of readers are uncomfortable with something that they can't really pin down. Dyer doesn't help these readers out by flitting around the globe and resolutely refusing to say anything meaningful about anything but his own state of mind. But once you let go of expectations, "Yoga" really starts to grow on you, adding up to a pleasant if transitory experience, kind of like an evening with an aging backpacker in a seedy hostel with a bottle of Thai whiskey. Dyer also charms as someone who is obviously staggeringly well-read, yet wears his knowledge lightly and seems to actually live with his favorites, instead of just name-drop. That must be a British thing, because it's rare to find American writers who can pull this off. (...)

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