White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World

“If Chekhov himself were to read this book, when he got to the chapter ‘White Sands’ even he would surely feel some fraternal tremor of envy… Perhaps the most brilliantly original practitioner of his generation.” Jan Morris, The Spectator

“Dyer’s eyes miss nothing, and his brain emits sparks as brilliantly as The Lightning Field is meant to do in an evening thunderstorm.” Peter Conrad, Observer

“Why are we here? Dyer asks. With his customary elegance of thought, he sees that our attempts to transcend our situation through travel and art are motivated by our awareness of our final destination: “We are here to go somewhere else.” Financial Times

“There is no other writer quite like Dyer. He is wickedly funny, indefatigably brilliant and almost effortlessly compelling.” Buffalo News

“With philosophical incisiveness, Dyer extols the virtue of landscape to conjure in himself the tangible and the mirage, the real and the illusion, the possessed object and the desired object. There is an undeniable joy throughout Dyer’s writing, an affirmation that travel and the experience of place—not merely being someplace, but being present in it—is a gateway to the humanity of past, present, and future. A mesmerizing compendium that reflects on time, place, and just what, exactly, we are doing here.” Kirkus

From “one of our most original writers” (Kathryn Schulz, New York magazine) comes an expansive and exacting book—firmly grounded, but elegant, witty, and always inquisitive—about travel, unexpected awareness, and the questions we ask when we step outside ourselves. Geoff Dyer’s restless search—for what? is unclear, even to him—continues in this series of fascinating adventures and pilgrimages: with a tour guide who is in fact not a tour guide at the Forbidden City in Beijing, with friends in New Mexico, where D. H. Lawrence famously claimed to have had “the greatest experience from the outdoor world,” with a hitchhiker picked up near a prison at White Sands, with Don Cherry (or a photo of him, at any rate) at the Watts Towers in Los Angeles.

Weaving stories about places to which he has recently traveled with images and memories that have persisted since childhood, Dyer tries “to work out what a certain place—a certain way of marking the landscape—means; what it’s trying to tell us; what we go to it for.”

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Geoff Dyer has received the Somerset Maugham Prize, the E. M. Forster Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism, and, in 2015, the Windham Campbell Prize for nonfiction. The author of four novels and nine works of nonfiction, Dyer is writer-in-residence at the University of Southern California and lives in Los Angeles. His books have been translated into twenty-four languages.