Dorothea Brooke swooned in Rome. Stendhal fainted in Florence. Jeffrey Atman, the protagonist of Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, is sotted and besotted in Venice. The novel is several remarkable things at once. First, it is a rushing tale of carnal serendipity and bacchanalian excess at the Venice Biennale, the ultimate junket for a hack arts reporter. It is there that Geoff Dyer describes Jeff's desultory search for a scoop and manic pursuit of Laura - the object of a Bellini-fuelled beatific vision - with shambolic éclat. It is also the story of an inadvertent and unlikely pilgrim in the ancient holy city of Varanasi in northern India. Finally, Jeff in Venice is something far stranger than a mere sequel to Death in Venice, it is an uncanny recurrence of moods, images and whole phrases from Thomas Mann's novella.
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