The Last Days of Roger Federer: And Other Endings
What do Roger Federer, Friedrich Nietzsche and Bob Dylan have in common? A sense of an ending, of something halted in its tracks, of the life and soul of the party going home early to bed. In this irreverent, insightful meditation by self-professed ‘dilly-dallying’ writer Geoff Dyer, we are treated to a litany of endings, final days and last works of the writers, artists and sports stars most important to the author throughout his life. This comes across as a series of beginnings, too, thoughts expressed – though with characteristic sly eloquence – before their time.
Arranged in brief, numbered vignettes, this book implies that Dyer himself has unfinished business – that these are notes on what could have been unending commentaries, had the imposed endgame not been to meet the deadlines necessary for publication, spurred on by the realisation of being ‘middle-aged’. He has ongoing projects, after all, which he also describes in this book: literary tomes he has half-read but never finished, tennis matches halted by injury, and a lifelong vow to only wash his hair with shampoo stolen from hotel rooms.
The latter, if somewhat absurd, epitomises Dyer’s attitude to producing and consuming writing, with a comic fatalism which makes the idea of giving up seem the most admirable thing in the world. Yet The Last Days of Roger Federer is not one of those books one is tempted to give up on, joyously mundane and gripping to the end as it is.
Words: Hannah Clarkson