In eight poetically charged vignettes, Geoff Dyer skillfully evokes both modern jazz and the people who shaped it. Drawing from photos, anecdotes, and, most importantly, the way he hears the music, Dyer imaginatively reconstructs scenes from the embattled lives of some of the greats: Lester Young fading away in a hotel room, Charles Mingus storming down the streets of New York on a tiny bicycle, Thelonious Monk creating his own private language on the piano. However, music itself is the driving force of “But Beautiful,” and Dyer brings it to life in luminescent and wildly metaphoric prose that mirrors the quirks, eccentricities and brilliance of each musician’s style.
Geoff Dyer is the author of four novels and many genre-defying books including “But Beautiful,” which was awarded the Somerset Maugham Prize. The winner of the 2003 Lannan Literary Fellowship for Fiction, the International Centre of Photography’s 2006 Infinity Award for Writing and the 2006 E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Dyer is a regular contributor to many publications in the United States and the United Kingdom. He is currently living in Los Angeles where he is Writer-in-Residence at the University of Southern California. For more information, visit: www.geoffdyer.com.
Dyer’s book was the April selection for the Connect: 21CM Book Club. This month, and in the spirit of jazz, we’ve thrown in a twist by interviewing jazz musician Keith Javors. Now, host Sylvia Yang presents questions to Javors posed by our readers.