A pit stop at the Wheeler
Two urbane narrators will be speaking on the one night at the Wheeler Centre next month after a drought in international face-to-faces.
Both put a lot of effort and humour into making their books honest and readable.
Sloane Crosley comes from New York and takes a somewhat cynical view of dating.
Her novel Cult Classic was released last year and while the material sounds predictable – a 30-something looking for love – the language is wicked and the premise original.
This narrator appears to know relationships back to front and forwards. She’s an expert at the gag and so are her exes, Woody Allen-esque characters writing novels and winning medals at the Olympics.
Geoff Dyer harks from Great Britain, although he has travelled the world on his first-person scholarly and romantic adventures.
This is a guy who can hop between genres in a single bound. His latest book of essays The Last Days of Roger Federer deals loosely with ageing but it’s really about endings, including competitions between writers about quotes on other writers’ tombstones.
Dyer knows a lot, having followed his passions into American photography, D H Lawrence, otherworldly landscapes and India.
He has published more than 20 books and is close to stepping into the living treasure category.
What these writers have in common is the quest for intellectual freedom and an interest in exploring the cultural mores of life deeply from a personal point of view.
During one of his travels, Dyer has a whinge about the honour cultures of Italy and Sicily where a host will lavish a guest with care.
Dyer, from a more suspicious English point of view, is wary of accepting an expensive meal because of the possible strings attached.
And Crosley, from a New York Jewish point of view, expects her boyfriends to laugh at her jokes as well as the other way around.
As she wanders around New York bumping into her old flames, the encounters are “changing [my] vision into romance, turning everything else into black and white”.
Both Dyer and Crosley are urbane and make a splash without being too preachy. They are often the butt of their own jokes. Dyer watches too much TV and has a tendency to be pedantic.
This writer is not expecting to see eye to eye with his readers and is not afraid to share his discoveries while roaming the earth and reporting back. Similarly, Crosley is not after a close-up of her relationships but a narrative romp through the cafes of New York.
Both are free spirits landing in Melbourne for a quick pit stop and they have powerful methods for negating a negative, preferring humour to hard luck stories.
Sloane Crosley and Geoff Dyer, March 9, Wheeler Centre. •