2009, Books, Non-Fiction

Conquest of the Useless (2009) by Werner Herzog

This was given to me by accident but sometimes that is the best way of discovering interesting things.

I am a massive Herzog fan but I was skeptical about reading something by him, if only because I have a couple of pretty firmly held beliefs about artists that would lead me to be wary of such an enterprise:

  1. good and great artists are assholes more often than not and
  2. just because someone is good at one or more art-forms, doesn’t make that person good at many.

But, to my surprise, this “diary” is a fascinating, illuminating and surprisingly funny read. Certainly more entertaining than any diary I have ever written.

It is very much like a novel, in that it is episodic, and Herzog mixes in dreams and random snippets of past news with the daily reality.

As such it overcomes its own origins and stands as something special; worth reading even if you have never seen Fitzcarraldo or don’t even know what it is.


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