Three interviews in particular have been getting regular play on my iPod over the past few months, one being with Geoff Dyer; the other two with Pico Iyer. Geoff Dyer is known for writing books on a variety of subjects, among them Andrei Tarkovsky (Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room), D.H. Lawrence (Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D.H. Lawrence), jazz (But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz), and more. But what I love about him is how he approaches such subjects from a personal, level-headed, often funny perspective that specifically avoids stuffy academic over-analysis, opting for a highly relatable and open form of cultural commentary.
Pico Iyer, author of books like Video Night in Kathmandu and Other Reports From the Not-So-Far East, The Lady and the Monk: Four Seasons in Kyoto, and The Global Soul: Jet Lag, Shopping Malls, and the Search for Home, has a more specific area of interest in his writing (travel and world cultures), but like Dyer, he also pulls readers along on unpredictable journeys of ideas, thoughts and observations. His points on the ever-intensifying dialogue between cultures are among the most insightful I've ever come across.
Being committed to a large-scale writing project of my own at the moment, which I hope to make good progress on during this summer and, with luck, I'll be able to talk more about before too long, it is extremely inspiring to read and learn about writers like Dyer and Iyer, who are guided by their own passions, interests, and personal experiences over any other factors, and who make a point of incorporating these very personal components into their non-fiction work. Listening to them discuss such things is just as rewarding, and whether you're a writer or not, the interviews gathered below will surely charge your imagination and get you thinking about how we look at culture, art, and travel. Happy listening!
*Note: Notebook on Cities and Culture is also available on iTunes.