As a child Geoff Dyer spent long hours making and blotchily painting model fighter planes. So the adult Dyer jumped at the chance of a residency aboard an aircraft carrier. Another Great Day at Sea chronicles Dyer's experiences on the USS George H.W. Bush as he navigates the routines and protocols of 'carrier-world', from the elaborate choreography of the flight deck through miles of walkways and hatches to kitchens serving meals for a crew of five thousand to the deafening complexity of catapult and arresting gear. Meeting the Captain, the F-18 pilots and the dentists, experiencing everything from a man-overboard alert to the Steel Beach Party, Dyer guides us through the most AIE (acronym intensive environment) imaginable.
A lanky Englishman (could he really be both the tallest and the oldest person on the ship?) in a deeply American world, with its constant exhortations to improve, to do better, Dyer brilliantly records the daily life on board the ship, revealing it to be a prism for understanding a society where discipline and conformity, dedication and optimism, become forms of self-expression. In the process it becomes clear why Geoff Dyer has been widely praised as one of the most original - and funniest - voices in literature.
Another Great Day at Sea is the definitive work of an author whose books defy definition.
Geoff Dyer is the author of three previous novels, a critical study of John Berger and six other non-fiction books including But Beautiful, which was awarded the Somerset Maugham Prize, and Out of Sheer Rage, which was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. Dyer lives in London and contributes to numerous publications including the Observer, Guardian and New Statesman.
This persona-driven work follows Dyer (But Beautiful; The Missing of the Somme) during the two weeks he spent as writer in residence on the USS George H.W. Bush, interviewing the aircraft carrier's crew, as well as members of the U.S. navy and taking notes on the ship's general operations. Yet, as is his custom, Dyer makes no pretenses about being a reporter or capturing facts. He claims early on that "the essence of character is the inability to get used to things," and though he makes due aboard the vast and bustling ship, he knows himself well. The result is an often hilarious and aphoristic, short-chaptered account written by a British essayist who is fascinated by American culture. Always the outsider, Dyer spends most of his time thinking about food, comparing himself to other writers in a self-deprecating manner, or lamenting the ship's many inconveniences. Dyer is most engaging when he's coming to terms with his own anxieties, or making sharp observations about the accomplishments of others; he is perhaps at his least sophisticated when whining or indulging his own base desires. Though this isn't Dyer's finest work of nonfiction, and he hasn't tackled his subject matter to its full potential, it is still a highly entertaining read. With color photographs not seen by PW.