In Zona, Geoff Dyer confronts a giant: Russian visionary filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky. During his peripatetic career, Dyer has tackled literature, photography, jazz, fiction, painting, food, memoir and travel essays. He is a relentlessly restless writer — utterly contemporary and light on his feet. It's fascinating to see him take on this master of stillness, timelessness and heavy self-regard.
Consciousnesses collide, overlap, meld — and if nothing else, the book is a mesmerizing mashup of sensibilities.
For decades, Dyer has been obsessed with Tarkovsky's richly suggestive 1979 masterwork, Stalker. Perhaps in an effort to exorcise its hold on him, Dyer takes us step by step through the film, detailing what scans as a rather uneventful plot.
Stalker tells the story of three men — known as the Writer, the Professor and the Stalker — who make their way through the mysterious Zone, a sealed-off area possibly created by a meteor.
Within the Zone lies the even more mysterious "Room," where, it's said, your deepest desires might be fulfilled. But first, you must survive the dangerous journey there — a glacially paced sojourn replete with frights that are almost completely in the characters' heads. (Watching the film before you read the book is highly recommended. Think of them as an aesthetic two-pack of sorts.)
Stalker has been said to prophesize the events at Chernobyl or reflect the Soviet gulags. It has been called a twist on The Wizard of Oz.
Click over to read an excerpt of the book.