cover image The Last Days of Roger Federer: And Other Endings

The Last Days of Roger Federer: And Other Endings

Geoff Dyer. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28 (272p) ISBN 978-0-374-60556-8

“Things coming to an end, artists’ last works,” and “time running out” are forthrightly probed in this soulful meditation. Novelist and essayist Dyer (Otherwise Known as the Human Condition) surveys a multitude of gifted people as they edge toward quitting time, including the long twilight of tennis great Roger Federer, Nietzche’s collapse into madness just when his philosophical ideas were catching on, Jack Kerouac’s descent into lifeless writing after On the Road affirmed his greatness, and Bob Dylan’s endless touring with a voice that’s been “shot to hell.” Dyer also explores his own experiences slouching into his 60s—slowing down, suffering injuries that dampen his tennis game, and, on the upside, smoking psychedelics with an aging surfer buddy. Dyer’s musings unfold in a loose-limbed ramble of bite-size biographical sketches, artistic and literary appreciations, and wry reflections. (“It’s not just that time passes more quickly as you get older; life becomes progressively less eventful.... For the young a year lasts for ages, and a night in—a night spent not getting wasted—feels like a wasted life.”) Dyer’s mix of sparkling prose, rich insight, and mordant wit suggests that a well-lived life is worth even the bitterest of endings. It makes for a smart, memorable take. Photos. Agent: Andrew Wylie, Wylie Agency. (May.)