... rich ... where Barthes always felt the painful prick of his own mortality, Mr. Dyer’s See/Saw finds the delicate promise of new life ... We see anew what someone else once saw, a dizzying experience to which the clever title of the book alludes. Averse to jargon, Mr. Dyer never strays too far away from an ordinary viewer’s experience. A proud interloper in the compartmentalized halls of academe, he writes for our enjoyment as well as his own ... the 52 scintillating essays in See/Saw provide reassuring evidence that Mr. Dyer will keep the ink flowing ... The author of more than a dozen works of fiction and criticism, Mr. Dyer has cultivated an unmistakable narrative voice, by turns lofty and self-deprecating, acerbic and arch, dismissive and sympathetic ... If these ruminations strike you as a little overwrought, that is Mr. Dyer’s intention. His readings, entertaining, nuanced and irreverent, never pretend to uncover any single truth about a photograph. Instead, they are an attentive viewer’s creative attempts—always incomplete, often fantastical, sometimes wrong—to determine what a photograph might mean.
There is something delightfully disconcerting about the non-fiction work of Geoff Dyer. The books seems like a very amiable and intelligent conversation; all the more so with a book like See / Saw, where Dyer writes about photography (again) and makes the reader flip back and forth between the text and the image, making the whole experience a kind of dialogue. He is exceptionally genial company, and the musings move away from the photographs to freewheel around geopolitics and pornography, the meaning of statues or jazz, the poetry of WH Auden or the paintings of de Chirico. But for all the conviviality of ideas, an observant interlocutor might notice that all the while, Dyer has been sharpening a pencil while beguiling you. His prose is limpid and witty, and one is left in no doubt that what seemed like divagations and digressions and drifts were artfully crafted ... Not having known the works of most of the photographers beforehand is almost a blessing, in that it trains the reader in looking intently and perhaps even naively. Time and again I went back to the pictures and thought 'But why, Geoff, did you not mention that?' ... Dyer is not merely a fine prose stylist but a writer of knowingly stylish prose ... I could open this book on any single page and find examples of clever alliteration, assonance, rhetorical flourish and little tourniquets of grammar ... This is both a beautifully written and a beautiful book. An old friend once offered the sage advice that one should always review non-fiction, because even if the book is bad, you will still learn something, but all you learn from a bad novel is how bad a novel can be. This is not in any sense a bad book. But it is a melancholy one.
... a remarkable compilation ... In his distinctively lively, digressive style, Dyer offers the reader a provocative, sometimes zany guidebook to more than 40 modern (1900-present) photographers and their work. Reading Dyer, in a word, is fun, and this collection is an intellectual funhouse ... Dyer's exploratory prose descriptions offer the reader a short course in parsing inscrutable photos. His prose is witty, full of puns, odd comparisons and unexpected connections ... Graywolf Press has given us a very attractive volume that should delight fans of Dyer's rich imagination and everyone else who has ever wondered what's going on in a photograph.