Some lines from Robert Christgau about Lloyd Cole have always stuck with me: “So what if he can’t stop talking about books and movies and gathers his material on day trips from his walkup flat? Does that make him so different from you?” I was reminded of those lines while reading Geoff Dyer’s The Last Days of Roger Federer, as it’s a book replete with ruminations about books, movies, art, music, drugs, and, yes, tennis, thematically tied by the biggest baddie of all—death. Or, as Dyer puts it, “quitting,” but that simple word can mean so many things.
Now, if my first sentence, dropping in both a rock critic who himself is famous for his often cryptic, ever epigrammatic reviews and a semi-obscure musician (his best known tune, “Are You Ready to be Heartbroken?” might be the most famous because Camera Obscura wrote the answer song, “Lloyd, I’m Ready to be Heartbroken”) was off-putting, this Dyer book might not be for you. For that’s often his method, allusive to the point it’s easy to feel you need an auxiliary reading list to school yourself to read The Last Days and be fully rewarded. The odds are good you won’t have enough days to accomplish your assignment.
Care to read the rest then do so at the California Review of Books.