Geoff Dyer, as it's by now no more than a truism to acknowledge, is a writer of rare and eccentric talents. He seldom produces anything that fits into a straightforward genre, preferring to stir reflection, reportage, memoir and interdisciplinary criticism into books that are quite sui generis.
Hence this brilliant but broken-backed book, with its brilliant but broken-backed title. It's a bit confusing. Jeff is in Venice, but Jeff is not Geoff. There is death in Varanasi – death is endemic there, death as a spectator sport, the permanent circus of mourning at the burning