Cover image for Paris trance : a romance
Paris trance : a romance
Dyer, Geoff.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999.
Physical Description:
274 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"First published in 1998 by Abacus, ... United Kingdom"--T.p. verso.
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Library
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Luke moves to Paris and, with his new love and the other expatriate couple from whom they become inseparable, wanders the Eleventh Arrondissement where clubs, cafes, banter, and Ecstasy now occupy Gertrude Stein's city "which is not real but is really there".

In Paris Trance, Geoff Dyer fixes a dream of happiness -- and its aftermath -- with photographic precision. Boldly erotic and hauntingly elegiac, comic and romantic, this brilliant reconception of the classic expatriate novels of the Lost Generation confirms Dyer as one of our most original and talented writers.

Author Notes

Geoff Dyer was born in Cheltenham in 1958. He currently lives in London.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Following his excellent biography Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D. H. Lawrence (1998), Dyer writes a modestly engrossing novel about a young Englishman who goes to live in Paris to write a book. Luke doesn't finish the project, though; in fact, he forever is unable to stick with what could make him happy. Luke gets a no-brainer job in Paris and there makes the acquaintance of Alex, another Englishman, and soon they are best friends. Girls come into their lives, romances blossom, but what becomes increasingly obvious is that Luke is simply lazy. Then Luke and Alex drift apart, and for eight years they do not see one another; and while Alex's life takes off, Luke's sinks deeper and deeper. And the book the reader has in hand here is actually Alex's account of Luke's life of failed promise. Dyer's novel has depth but lacks luster. Conversations go on too long, and characters have very little reader attraction. Still, Dyer has a reputation, so librarians should be prepared for demand. --Brad Hooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

"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-siŠcle 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 ParisÄone 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 filmÄa 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) FYI: Dyer's Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D.H. Lawrence is an NBCC nominee in criticism. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

At 26, Luke leaves England for Paris, hell-bent on living the life of a dissolute wannabe writer. He produces precious little writing, preferring to spend his energy on his sexually inventive affair with the lovely Nicole and his friendship with best chum Alex and his lover, Sahra. The foursome vacation together, prowl the Parisian movie houses for must-see films that trigger (for them, anyway) snappy critical analysis. Drug consumption glues the four friends together until Luke's selfishness inevitably unravels their ties. A frustrating effort by a clearly talented writer (nomiated for a National Book Critics Circle Award for Out of Sheer Rage: Wresling with D.H. Lawrence) whose flashes of brilliance are more tease than enticement. Attempts to be clever by shifting narrator Alex's story back and forth from first to third person fall short. Ironically, the author warns his readers on the very first page that this is going to be a slog. "The events recorded here concerned only a handful of people and, quite probably, are of interest only to those people." Exactly. Not recommended.ÄBeth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



When Luke came to Paris with the intention of writing a book based on his experiences of living - as he grandly and naively conceived it - 'in exile', he was twenty-six years old ('a fine age for a man,' according to Scott Fitzgerald). As far as I know, he made absolutely no progress with this book, abandoning it - except in moments of sudden, drunken enthusiasm - in the instant that he began leading the life intended to serve as its research, its first draft. By the time we met, at the Garnier Warehouse, this book had assumed the status of a passport or travel visa: something which, by enabling him to leave one country and pass into another, had served its purpose and could be, if not discarded, then stored away and ignored. So it's fallen to me to tell his story, or at least the part of it with which I am familiar. Our story, in fact, for by recounting this part of my friend's life I am trying to account for my own, for my need to believe that while something in Luke tugged him away from all that he most loved, from all that made him happiest, it is his life - and not mine - which is exemplary, admirable, even enviable. The events recorded here concerned only a handful of people and, quite probably, are of interest only to those people. Especially since 'story' is almost certainly the wrong word. Whatever makes events into a story is entirely mission from what follows. It may well be that what urges me to preserve these events in the way I have - the only way I could - is exactly what stops them becoming a story. Luke arrived in Paris at one of the worst possible times, in mid-July, when the city was preparing to close down for August. Parisians claim this is the best part of the year - it's easy to park, they say (after a certain amount of time in a city the parking is all you care about) - but for someone who had just arrived it was the worst. The only people around were tourists and those forced to cater for them. Many shops and restaurants were shut and the few that were open closed far earlier than usual. Luke had rented a horrible apartment in the First arrondissement. On paper it had sounded perfect: right in the middle of the city, a few minutes' walk from the Louvre, the Arcades, and other famous tourist sights. Unfortunately that's all there was: museums and tourist sights. The temporal heart of the city, the part that makes it what it is today - as opposed to preserving what had been magnificent in the eighteenth century, or mythically bohemian in the 1920s - had moved east into the Eleventh, close to what had once been the edge of town. The apartment itself was a stained place with a sad curtain separating the sleeping area from the living area and nothing to separate the living area from the smells of the cooking area (the cooker itself comprised two hot plates, electric, one of which warmed up only reluctantly). It was the kid of apartment where, if possible, you avoided touching anything. The surfaced of the cooking area - you couldn't call it a kitchenette, let alone a kitchen - were all sticky. Even the worn linoleum floor was sticky. The fridge had never been defrosted and so the ice-box was just that: a box of furry ice in the depths of which, preserved like at thousand-year-old body in a glacier, could just be glimpsed the greenish packaging of a bag of frozen peas. Years of unventilated steam had made the paint in the bathroom bubble and peel. There was mould on the walls. Clothes hung up to dry on the cord above the bath never did. The shower curtain was grimy, the toilet seat warped, possibly dangerous. There were yellow-brown cigarette burns on the flush. To stop the taps dripping Luke had to twist them so hard he expected the pipes to snap. The window in the living area - the only window in the place - has not been washed for a long time. In a few years it would be indistinguishable from the wall. Already it was so grimed with pollution that it seemed to suck light out of the apartment like an extractor. An extent of patterned material had been stretched over the lumpy sofa but as soon as anyone sat down (Luke himself essentially), it became untucked so that the cigarette-scarred arms and blotched back were again revealed. The only stylish touch was provided by a black floor lamp with a halogen bulb and foot-adjustable dimmer switch. By keeping the light turned as low as possible Luke sought to keep at bay the simple truth that it was an ugly sofa in an ugly, sticky apartment in the middle of a neighborhood that was really a mausoleum. At intervals he was filled with rage - immigrant's rage - that Madame Carachos had had the nerve to rent this dump to him. On arriving in the city he had turned up at her lavish apartment and handed over a wad of bills to cover the rent for the two months they had agreed upon. They had taken a coffee together and then Madame Carachos, like everyone else, had left the city to the tourists, to those who could not afford to leave, to Luke. Excerpted from Paris Trance: A Romance by Geoff Dyer All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.